What History Remembers…

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Obviously there are as many quotes which show his hatred for slavery and his belief that all men should have the freedom to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Furthermore, it should be noted that this quote comes from the context of his senatorial debates with Douglas, which he lost in part because of his ‘radical’ positions on slavery (e.g. the “House Divided” speech). Yet, he was also a member of the Colonization society for much of his political career. This society advocated both the emancipation and the transport of African Americans to a Caribbean island or to Africa. I posted this quote and these comments because I think it’s important to remember historical figures as they were, not as we wish they would have been.

Lewis on Humility

Thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools…God wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. God wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love—a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own.

C. S. Lewis (Screwtape Letters)

Quotable: Hans Urs von Balthasar

Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance.

– Hans Urs von Balthasar

Kant 101

“The celebrated Locke, for want of due reflection on these points, and because he met with pure conceptions of understanding in experience, sought also to deduce them from experience, and yet proceeded so inconsequently as to attempt, with their aid, to arrive at cognitions which lie far beyond the limits of all experience. David Hume perceived that, to render this possible, it was necessary that the conceptions should have a priori origin. But as he could not explain how it was possible that conceptions which are not connected with each other in the understanding, must nevertheless be thought as necessarily connected in the object–and it never occurred to him that the understanding itself might, perhaps, by means of these conceptions, be the author of the experience in which its objects were presented to it.”

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Reason (New York: Barnes and Nobel, 2004), 59.

Quotable: Chesterton

“One of the strangest examples to which ordinary life is devalued is the example of popular literature, the vast mass of which we contentedly describe as vulgar. The boy’s novelette may be ignorant in a literary sense, which is only like saying that a modern novel is ignorant in the chemical sense, or the economic sense, or the astronomical sense; but it is not vulgar intrinsically — it is the actual center of a million flaming imaginations.”

– G.K. Chesterton

Quotable: Wolterstorff

Our philosophers of art of the past two and a half centuries have not talked about touching and kissing as ways of engaging art; they have not talked about tears in the presence of a sculpture-real tears, I mean. They have talked about art tears.

Wolterstorff, “Why Philosophy of Art Cannot Handle Kissing, Touching, and Crying”