All Language about Everything Is Metaphorical; We Think in Metaphors

“All language about God must, as St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out, necessarily be analogical [i.e. metaphorical]. We need not be surprised at this, still less suppose that because it is analogical it is therefore valueless or without any relation to the truth. The fact is, that all language about everything is analogical; we think in a series of metaphors. We can explain nothing in terms of itself, but only in terms of other things. … [W]hen we speak about something of which we have no direct experience, we must think by analogy or refrain from thought. It may be perilous, as it must be inadequate, to interpret God by analogy with ourselves, but we are compelled to do so; we have no other means of interpreting anything. Sceptics frequently complain that man has made God in his own image; they should in reason go further (as many of them do) and acknowledge that man has made all existence in his own image. Continue reading

What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Fate—and Aristotle’s Unities

«When the laws regulating human society are so formed as to come into collision with the nature of things, and in particular with the fundamental realities of human nature, they will end by producing an impossible situation which, unless the laws are altered, will issue in such catastrophes as war, pestilence and famine. Catastrophes thus caused are the execution of universal law upon arbitrary enactments which contravene the facts; they are thus properly called by theologians, judgments of God

«When there is a genuine conflict of opinion, it is necessary to go behind the moral code and appeal to the natural law—to prove, that is, at the bar of experience, that St. Francis does in fact enjoy a freer truth to essential human nature than Caligula, and that a society of Caligulas is more likely to end in catastrophe than a society of Franciscans

«cf. the Virgilian concept of Destiny: Continue reading

Literacy in the Formal Sense Is Dangerous

“The education that we have so far succeeded in giving to the bulk of our citizens has produced a generation of mental slatterns. They are literate in the merely formal sense—that is, they are capable of putting the symbols C, A, T together to produce the word CAT. But they are not literate in the sense of deriving from those letters any clear mental concept of the animal. Literacy in the formal sense is dangerous, since it lays the mind open to receive any mischievous nonsense about cats that an irresponsible writer may choose to print—nonsense which could never have entered the heads of plain illiterates who were familiar with an actual cat, even if unable to spell its name.”

—Dorothy L. Sayers, The Mind of the Maker (1941)