“The special mark of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. It says, in mockery of old devotees, that they believed without knowing why they believed.
But the moderns believe without knowing what they believe– and without even knowing that they do believe it. Their freedom consists in first freely assuming creed, and then freely forgetting that they are assuming it.
In short, they always have an unconscious dogma; and an unconscious dogma is the definition of a prejudice. They are the dullest and deadest of all ritualists who merely recite their creed in their subconsciousness, as if they repeated their creed in their sleep.
A man who is awake should know what he is saying, and why he is saying it– that is, he should have fixed creed and relate it to a first principle. This is what most moderns will never consent to do.
Their thoughts will work out to most interesting conclusions; but they can never tell you anything about their beginnings.
They have always taken away the number they first thought of.
They have always forgotten the very fact or fancy on which their whole theory depends.”
–G.K. Chesterton, “The Debate on Spiritualism (March 15, 1919),” The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Vol. XXXI: The Illustrated News, 1917-1919, Ed. Lawrence J. Clipper (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989), 31: 441.