UNBORN WORD of the day

Here’s a 20th century pro-life G.E.M. you may not have heard about
April 5, 2008, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Pro-life, Quotes from Great Christians

Elizabeth Anscombe

Robert George begins his obituary on G. E. M. Anscombe (born Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe) this way:

.E.M. (“Elizabeth”) Anscombe, who died at the age of 81 was a titan in the world of philosophy, and one of the 20th century’s most remarkable women.

Elizabeth Anscombe was a convert to the Catholic Church and considered one of the great women philosophers of the 20th century. She was well-known for her work with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and her groundbreaking tome entitled Intentions.

She was also known for a debate that she had in 1948 with C. S. Lewis on one of the chapters in his book Miracles. She won the debate and as a “result of the weaknesses pointed out in the contest, Lewis substantially rewrote the chapter for future editions of the book. Admirers of Lewis have made much of this event – some associates (primarily George Sayer and Derek Brewer) remarked that this loss was so humiliating for Lewis that he abandoned theological argument and turned entirely to devotional writing and children’s literature.” She thought these youthful admirers greatly exaggerated the negative impact on Lewis and admired him for making the changes to the chapter.

She fully supported Pope Paul VI when he came out with his encyclical letter Humane Vitae and was an ardent pro-lifer. As a full professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University she shocked her colleagues by twice participating in, and being arrested at, peaceful pro-life protests in England adopting the ‘Operation Rescue’ approach. Two of her daughters were also arrested with her at these events.

In 1977 she came out with an incredible defense of the Catholic Church’s position against contraception entitled Contraception and Chastity. I just recently discovered this gem and would recommend that anyone interested in this topic read this article. It is a unique take on this subject and really gets to the heart of the matter. She provides historical context which is fascinating and her line of argumentation shows why the world we live in has changed so sadly and drastically since contraception came into widespread use.

Elizabeth married fellow convert and philosopher Peter Geach with whom she had 7 children.

1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Thank you for pointing me to this work
(Contraception and Chastity). I had heard
of her when reading about Lewis, but didn’t
know much about her. I’ll bet she did shock
her colleagues. Long live shock treatment!

Comment by S. Moore

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