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Anglican Books > The Abolition of Man by C.S.Lewis

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message 1: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Here is the place to begin discussing The Abolition of Man. Since it is an essay and not a story we can pick up and discuss at whatever section we want. For stories, it seems posting separate threads for each chapter helps eliminate seeing "spoilers" of plots. I am picking up my copy from the library tomorrow, but will hold off posting till the 19th.

Who's going to join me?


message 2: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Here is a web site where you can read The Abolition of Man online:
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/...


message 3: by Karen L. (last edited Mar 22, 2010 04:31PM) (new)

Karen L. Below is a quote of Plato that Lewis includes in the first Chapter, "Men Without Chests," that I really appreciated and agreed with:
"Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful.14 In the Republic, the well-nurtured youth is one 'who would see most clearly whatever was amiss in ill-made works of man or ill-grown works of nature, and with a just distaste would blame and hate the ugly even from his earliest years and would give delighted praise to beauty, receiving it into his soul and being nourished by it, so that he becomes a man of gentle heart. All this before he is of an age to reason; so that when Reason at length comes to him, then, bred as he has been, he will hold out his hands in welcome and recognize her because of the affinity he bears to her.'15"

Me: Yes we must be learners; study nature books, music and art in order to be good thinkers. And yes we ARE most definitely influenced morally by what we read and learn. Education IS so important.

"And because our approvals and disapprovals are thus recognitions of objective value or responses to an objective order, therefore emotional states can be in harmony with reason (when we feel liking for what ought to be approved) or out of harmony with reason (when we perceive that liking is due but cannot feel it). No emotion is, in itself, a judgement; in that sense all emotions and sentiments are alogical. But they can be reasonable or unreasonable as they conform to Reason or fail to conform. The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it. "

Below is my most favorite quote from this chapter:

"For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head."


message 4: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 134 comments I read this many years ago and am interestedly beginning to re-read it now. One thing that always strikes me about C.S. Lewis is how MODERN his work seems - he seems to be speaking about TODAY as much as he is about his own day. I've read only one chapter again so far, but here we see the beginings of what has become the flower of indoctrination in moral relativism in the education system, the overthrow of "the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are."


message 5: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Hi Skylar! Nice to hear your thoughts on this. Yes, Lewis is SO relevant for today. I get so tired of the "moral relativism," in education. Everyone is like, "let's not infringe our moral values on anyone, It's an individual thing." When what the world really needs is teaching about these very things!

Has anyone else started the book yet? If people have read it before, it is fine to check out the link and join in on the discussion.


message 6: by Chris (new)

Chris Hall | 5 comments Mod
Hi, sorry not to have contributed earlier!

I'm afraid I'm finding this like all other non-fiction works by Lewis - extremely hard going. I just don't know what it is about his style, or my reading, that does this to me. I'll try and persevere and see what comes out of this!


message 7: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Hi Chris,

It seems to be one of his works that is harder to dicipher than his others. I had to go back and re-read several parts. Feel free to throw out some questions to the group.

Is there anything that you have read recently that you might want to discuss? I'd love to hear your thoughts on books that you have really enjoyed.


message 8: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 134 comments I've finished the book and posted my updated review.


message 9: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Hi Skylar, I am only going to look at the review now...well at least after I help my son with a geometry problem :) School has been busier for this homeschool family. We are doing paper work and wrapping up our school year.

I found lots of treasures in reading the book, but I did find it more difficult than his other non fiction works. I plan on posting a few more thoughts on some of the chapters...soon, hopefully soon. I will be SO glad when this school year is wrapped up. I want to read and go off to a beach!!!!!


message 10: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Skylar's review actually helped me to understand the book better. Check it out:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 11: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. I find I like this from the last chapter:

To reduce the Tao to a mere natural product is a step of that kind. Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost. But you cannot go on `explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on `seeing through5 things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to `see through' first principles. 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.


message 12: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Below is a part from chapter two that interested me. I have had conversations with atheists asking them about morality. Asking them the question of why is it wrong to kill people? They fumble around and really can't answer the questions of why these kinds of values seem to be universal.

"To some it will appear that I have merely restored under another name what they always meant by basic or fundamental instinct. But much more than a choice of words is involved. 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."<?i>

I almost feel stupid asking this question, but throughout the book is Lewis using the word "Tao," to simply mean natural law, such as God's 10 commandments? Help?



message 13: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 134 comments He is using the word Tao to mean natural law, or traditional morality, or whatever you might want to call it - he is using it in short to mean universal truth. He is saying there is no morality that is not ultimately derived from universal truth, from the Tao. All moralities in all religions are derived from the Tao (including the 10 commandments), correctly or incorrectly. All who put forth "new" moralities are really only putting forth something derived (correctly or incorrectly, with disortion or without) from the Tao. And it is not possible to have any morality unless there is such a thing as universal truth.


message 14: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Thanks Skylar :D I keep going back and rereading parts, realizing it is a book that needs to be studied and pondered. Now it is making more sense to me.


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