The Complete Thinker: The Marvelous Mind of G.K. Chesterton by Dale Ahlquist

(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), 265


  • "When Chesterton says something we are immediately delighted by its truth, but we are also pleased with the package it arrives in." (12)
  • Chesterton is clarifying: he answers questions rather than just asking them (13)
  • Chesterton's great accomplishment is that, in addition to writing about everything, he puts it all together: he is a complete thinker (14)
  • Reading Chesterton is almost a complete education in itself...he doesn't fit into any single academic department (14)
  • Ahlquist's view of a complete thinker:
    1. Grasping the hierarchy of knowledge
    2. Thinking worthwhile thoughts
    3. Knowing how to fill in the gaps in our knowledge
    4. Using both faith and reason
  • "Chesterton is a giant of the faith, and a model of confidence in the truth." (20)


  • Existence itself is a gift, and the only appropriate response to a gift is gratitude (29)
  • "To become a Catholic is not to leave off thinking, but to learn how to think." (30, cf. CW 3:106)
  • Against relativism: "There is a whole truth of things, and that in knowing it and speaking it we are happy." (35)
  • Truth must pass five tests (36):
    • It is consistent
    • It does not change
    • It is distinctive
    • It is whole
    • It is good
  • "It is difficult to believe that people who are obviously careless about language can really be very careful about anything else." (45)
  • Philosophy is for everyone (48) and all communication is translation (50)
  • "The problem of evil, which has been a classic objection to the Christian faith, is actually evidence for the Christian faith. Evil proves that the claims of Christianity are valid. The Church teaches that there is an enemy. In a strange way, evil points to the good, even to the truth, because it is always pointing away from it." (63)
  • Happiness is based on obedience, what Chesterton calls (in Orthodoxy) "the Doctrine of Conditional Joy" (66)
  • "It is not drink but drunkenness that is evil. Anything that takes away our free will is evil." (78)
  • "Purity is the beginning of all passion" (80)
  • "You can only represent very big ideas in very small spaces." (90)

Topic: G.K. Chesterton


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Created: 2023-08-17-Thu
Updated: 2023-10-31-Tue