I revisited G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy the other day while traveling and was reminded of his splendid indictment against the lunacy of believing too much in oneself. This is still a problem in our society today. His prophetic words ring true. He wrote;


“Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.”…I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.” He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums.”

Chesterton then quipped, consider the actors who cannot act and still believe in themselves. See, according to Chesterton complete self-confidence is not only a sin; complete self-confidence is also a weakness. It is a blindness. It is hysterical. In response to Chesterton’s comments his walking partner responded;

“Well, if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?”

4 thoughts on “G.K. Chesterton: The Lunacy of Believing Too Much in Oneself

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