The Abolition Of Man, By: C.S. Lewis
By: C.S. Lewis
HarperOne; 31705th edition (April 7, 2015)
I’ll be honest here. A little too much time has gone by between now and when I read The Abolition of Man. I am trying to piece it all back together for my forthcoming blog posts, but this had been a struggle. Everything feels cogent but out of context. Suffice it to say that – in only the way Lewis could peel it back – this book examines humanistic ethics in stark contrast to our “enlightened” age of materialism and naturalism. Buckle up. This philosophy book will knock your socks off.
Two of my favorite quotes:
They write in order to produce certain states of mind in the rising generation, if not because they think those states of mind intrinsically just or good, yet certainly because they think them to be the means to some state of society which they regard as desirable. It would not be difficult to collect from various passages in The Green Book what their ideal is. But we need not. The important point is not the precise nature of their end, but the fact that they have an end at all. They must have, or their book (being purely practical in intention) is written to no purpose. And this end must have real value in their eyes. To abstain from calling it good and to use, instead, such predicates as ‘necessary’ or ‘progressive’ or ‘efficient’ would be a subterfuge. They could be forced by argument to answer the questions ‘necessary for what?’, ‘progressing towards what?’, ‘effecting what?’; in the last resort they would have to admit that some state of affairs was in their opinion good for its own sake.
We have been trying, like Lear, to have it both ways: to lay down our human prerogative and yet at the same time to retain it. It is impossible. Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasure of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own ‘natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.