September 2018 Print

The Last Word

Dear readers,

The sense of touch

Back in 1950, when TV was still in its early stages, a wise philosopher understood what a new era was beginning and gave a prophetic warning: “Thanks to television, man will soon be two huge eyeballs and a pin-point brain.” He continued:

“In other words, our culture seems to be altogether too visual. Why is it that an overemphasis on sight could possibly throw light on the character of our thought and indeed of our action? A neglected sense of touch and a reduction of all sensation to that of sight as the only relevant one would surely entail extraordinary consequences from an Aristotelian point of view, which is, I believe, also that of common experience.

“Sight is indubitably the most objective sense in the order of representation—it is the sense of clarity and distinction—but on the other hand, touch is the most basic of our senses, and it is, besides, par excellence the sense of certitude. It is the sense of existence, of reality, of substance, of nature, of experience and of sympathy. It is because of this that our attitude towards touch, towards the tangible, will have its counterpart in the quality of our religious thought and sentiment, in our philosophy, in science, in the fine arts, and indeed in our whole life of action, especially in politics” (Charles de Koninck).

Even Our Lord used the sense of touch, over that of sight, on the night of Easter, when He appeared to the Apostles to prove the reality of His resurrection.

Parents, educators and doctors are most concerned today, and rightly so, to see the ever-present screen replacing reality. What a contrast between watching a game of baseball, and playing baseball; watching a concert and playing an instrument, even reading a book on a tablet or holding a real book in one’s hands, and feeling, even smelling its pages…

When Archbishop Lefebvre urged a return to the land, it was to encourage this contact with reality and with nature, which modern education lacks so much. We have gone from a 3D real world to a 2D, mainly visual one, which, as Professor de Koninck wrote almost 70 years ago, is now “moving in upon us with its undiscerning, but at the same time, all too tangible bulldozer.”

Fr. Daniel Couture