CMP Review 2023-09-03

CMP Review 2023-09-03

“The function of reason,” explains Charlotte Mason in her Short Synopsis, “is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will.” Once the will has accepted an idea, reason rushes in to approve. And so fallacy after fallacy is committed with “the acquittal of that spurious moral sense which supports with its approval all reasonable action” (vol 2, p. 54).

As with several of Mason’s principles, the building blocks of this principle may be found in William Carpenter’s Principles of Moral Physiology. He notes the uncanny ability of reason to advocate for any position, however untrue: “We speak even now of an ‘ingenious argument,’ when we have in view rather the skill with which it is conducted, than the truth it is to support; in fact, our admiration is sometimes most called forth by the Ingenuity which is exerted to sustain a position we regard as untenable” (p. 504).

The Pharisees were confronted by an incontestable miracle: a man born blind could see. “Now we know that God does not hear sinners,” said the healed man. “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:31–33).

But the Pharisees, like us all, possessed the power of reason, ready to come to their aid. They contrived an argument that was “ingenious.” They exerted their power to sustain a position that was manifestly untenable.

Charlotte Mason’s poem brings the scene to life, with constructed dialog, read with feeling and power by @antonella.f.greco. Find it here.