C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man is a short read, but it’s so chock full of goodness. Clive Staples Lewis is a fantastic writer and a champion for the Christian cause. His views are quite obvious to any who have read the Chronicles of Narnia. I myself am just over halfway through them. Lewis was not always a devout Christian. He was converted to Christianity from militant atheism by his close friend and colleague J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings (just in case you didn’t know).
The Abolition of Man is book number five in my challenge to read fifty books during 2014, a lofty goal that has already opened my eyes to plenty of awesome literature. In The Abolition of Man, Lewis promotes the importance of universal values and traditional morals. I won’t give away too much, but here are some of my favorite parts.
- We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.
- A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional or (as they would say) ‘sentimental’ values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process.
- It looks, in fact, as if an ethics based on instinct will give the Innovator all he wants and nothing that he does not want.
- If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly, if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all.
- The Innovator attacks traditional values (the Tao) in defence of what he at first supposes to be (in some special sense) ‘rational’ or ‘biological’ values. But as we have seen, all the values which he uses in attacking the Tao, and even claims to be substituting for it, are themselves derived from the Tao….. This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which other may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality…is the sole source of all value judgements. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained.
- ‘With those who follow a different Way it is useless to take counsel’
- Only those who are practising the Tao will understand it.
I think the kicker for me is how Lewis closes his book. I think a lot of people on the internet, and especially a lot of people who go about philosophizing other people’s beliefs out of rational existence need to read this. What a civil world we would have.
“You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it…. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.”