Friday, April 15, 2011

Men Great and Mediocre

"I wish I could make clear from the very beginning that in criticizing great men, as I shall do, I am very far from forgetting what made them truly great. No man can fall a victim to his own genius unless he has genius; but those who have none are fully justified in refusing to be victimized by the genius of others. Not having made the mathematical discoveries of Descartes and Leibniz, we cannot be tempted to submit all questions to the rules of mathematics; but our very mediocrity should at least help us to avoid such a mistake. There is more than one excuse for being a Descartes, but there is no excuse whatever for being a Cartesian."

—Etienne Gilson, The Unity of Philosophical Experience (New York: Scribners, 1937), 7.

1 comment:

Brother Charles said...

My favorite from Gilson:

"All errors of the intellect are excusable save those that arise from failure of generosity."

The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1940), xii.