'Nearer to the roots of things': nature in the ideological imagination of G.K. Chesterton

Susan Byers

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This thesis investigates the role of nature in the political and historical imagination of writer and Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). Chersterton's attitude towards the natural world, expressed in both his fiction and non-fiction, inflected his thinking about economics, national odentity and the role of science and reason in the modern world. Thsi thesis employs the tools of intellectual history to interrogate existing historiography and to explore previously uncharted aspects of Chesterton's work, in particular, the role of 'nature' in his attempted conciliation between free will and determinism. He believed that nature and landsscape influenced human character but denied that geography could be wholly determinative, arguing that it was heresy to cede one's authority to the 'laws of nature'. He believed that modern thinkers were particularly susceptible to bowing before nature through the application of nature's laws to human society. From the style of nationalism that allowed blood to rule distiny to the scientism that established immutable laws to govern human society, everywhere Chesterton looked he saw biology becoming the master of society.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014


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