Excerpts from Chapter 2 in “The Abolition of Man” by C.S. Lewis

75 years ago, C.S. Lewis saw the philosophical direction of the modern world and delivered three lectures as a buttress against those trends. Over the years the book has sold well but its warnings have not been heeded. And now, the destruction of Western Civilization is imminent. Lewis delivered the Riddell Memorial Lectures at King’s College, Newcastle (part of the University of Durham), from February 24–26, 1943. The Riddell Memorial Lectures were established in 1928, or about the time that Lewis became a Christian. They were designed “as a forum for the exploration of the relation between religion and contemporary thought.” And so it was that just a bit more than a decade after his conversion, Lewis was invited to give the lectures. It was a momentous series that later was mildly edited into what readers have come to know as The Abolition of Man in the Lewis corpus.

I would recommend the book to all teachers, especially Christian teachers in our elementary and high schools across the country. The book is short but not simple. Paragraphs are long and densely textured in their philosophical argument. It helps to read it out loud.

On page 57 of Abolition of Man, Lewis says of the Tao,

“This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or The First Principles of Practical Reason of the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgements. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There never has been, and never will be, a radically new judgement of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) ‘ideologies,’ all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they possess.”

Further on he writes a summary:

“The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves.” (p. 56)

“An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or Practical Reason is idiocy.”  (p. 60)

For a FREE download of a pdf file of an INDEX to the Abolition of Man  Click  HERE.


And finally, may I recommend a video for the preparation of your heart for Easter?


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