ELEISON COMMENTS DCCXC (Sept. 4, 2022) : WHAT IS REALITY ? – II
What these “Comments” strongly suggested last week is that in judging of what reality is, common sense is much superior to so-called scientists and intellectuals. As for “scientists”, this is because their minds are usually confined to matter, or things material. Of things spiritual or “invisible”, as the Nicene Creed says, the mass of their minds have no inkling. That makes poor judges of reality in its highest part. As for “intellectuals”, the mass of their minds are boxed in by Kant (1724-1804), virtual king of the philosophy department of modern “universities” which make a point of despising common sense. This is because our common sense can be defined as our natural and God-given grasp of the realities all around us between birth and death, and since the later 18th century especially, man has been making war on God and nature.
Here is why today common sense is being steadily washed out of men’s minds by their supposed leaders, so that, for instance, men must be womanly and women must be manly, and children must change sex.
Yet how can what the common man still has of common sense stand up to the studies and learning of the “philosophers” ? Is it not as though a team of amateur footballers should defeat a team of professionals ? Normally, as professionals in any sport will easily defeat amateurs, so ordinary men will follow their leaders, and one such following his common sense in society today will easily be persuaded he is wrong. However, Aristotle (384-322 BC), a truly great philosopher for his analysis of reality still largely valid today, once said of his colleagues, “There is no stupidity that some philosopher has not been found to put forward.” So when it comes to the philosophical principles of life, the professionals are not always right.
Let us distinguish two meanings of the word “philosophy”. It can mean the intellectual activity of men who think, study, read and write books often in universities, i.e. the professional philosophers. Or a man’s philosophy can mean the principles by which, consciously or unconsciously, he lives, and since no man can live without having some such principles for living, then in this second sense some philosophy belongs to every man alive, amateur or professional.
Now these two senses are not the same. In the first sense, if a philosopher is writing a book, he can be doing it for a variety of other motives than to analyse reality. He can be writing philosophy to make a living, or to make money, or to make himself a name, and so on. And in that case he may or may not himself believe in what he is writing, he may be writing what he knows is nonsense, far removed from what he knows is real. In any case he wants people to take him seriously, so he must at least make them think that he is writing what he believes to be real. So I may not know if he is being real, or not.
So if I want to know what the professional philosopher really thinks, I will turn to the second sense of the word, and instead of listening to what he says, or just reading what he writes, I will watch how he lives, because that is bound to tell me what he really thinks. Here of course is why personal example is so much more telling, and persuasive, than mere words. If Archbishop Lefebvre made so many good priests, it was above all by his own example. So if I want to know what any given philosopher really thinks is reality, I will watch his actions rather than listen to his words.
At last we come to these “philosophers” who teach, following Kant, that the human mind cannot know what is behind the appearances of things. How do they act ? Do they live as though they do not know what is water for washing or coffee for drinking ? Of course not. How could Kant have walked to the Koenigsberg University each morning if he had not known the difference between a door and a wall, between stairs and a chair ? He could never have lived had he taken seriously his own stupidities. The enormous advantage of St Thomas Aquinas is that his system corresponds to common sense. God’s “Common Doctor” corresponds to God-given common sense.
God bless the teachers teaching as they live,
Who do not silly fabrications give.