Abolition of Man is online

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It was my senior year in high school, and I was browsing through the religion section of B. Dalton Bookseller in Southroads Mall when I came across some books by C. S. Lewis. I remembered the author's name from 3rd Grade -- Father Ralph Urmson-Taylor read Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to us during weekly chapel. For whatever reason, I picked up The Abolition of Man, paged through it, and bought it, the first Lewis book I read for myself.

If you believe that our culture first took a wrong turn in, say, the 1960s, this series of three brief lectures from the '40s will give you a new perspective. The rotten fruit of relativism began to appear in the '60s, but the seeds were planted long before.

Lewis begins with an excerpt from an English composition textbook which subtly plants the idea that a statement of value is nothing more than a reflection of the speaker's emotions and is unimportant. The educators are debunking the idea that our sentiments ought to be ordered in accordance with an objective reality. In the process, the very qualities needed to sustain civilization are being cut out of it.

If you want to see the sad results of that radical surgery, read anything by Theodore Dalrymple. If you want to understand how such a sad state of affairs came about, read The Abolition of Man.

The Abolition of Man can be read online, on the website of the Augustine Club of Columbia University.

Hat tip for the link to Eve Tushnet, who also links today to Lego scenes of the life of Martin Luther -- Luther posting his 95 Theses, Luther at the Diet of Worms, Luther translating the Bible in the Wartburg Castle, Luther throwing his inkwell at the Devil.

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4 Comments

Warren said:

I read Lewis' "Mere Christianity" awhile back. I got the impression that he was a very nice man, but given to wishful thinking and not very strong on applying logic to his thesis.

Warren said:

An interesting take on this book from the Catholic perspective.

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Homiletic/May1999/delusion.html

Kyle said:

By a lot of accounts, Lewis handled logic exceptionally well. Mere Christianity was written in a converational style to lay readers. Lewis had no intention of fleshing his ideas out to the depth necessary to make a full-formed philosophy. He didn't feel it was his place, as a Lit. professor, to be writing textbooks for religion and philosophy, so he didn't. If you want to test Lewis' ability with logic, you might try reading some of his texts in his field.

Nevertheless, Lewis' ideas in Mere Christianity hold up pretty well in the hands of a philosopher. You might want to check out C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea for a more thorough handling.

Warren said:

The case he made in "Mere" could only be satisfactory to the "choir." If he rose to a higher level in other books, then he must not have thought much of his lay audience.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 3, 2005 8:39 PM.

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