The Abolition of Man Quotes

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The Abolition of Man The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
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“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“You can’t go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“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”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“For every one pupil who needs to be guarded against 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.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man's mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut. He can say nothing to the purpose. Outside the Tao there is no ground for criticizing either the Tao or anything else.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“The very power of [textbook writers] depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is ‘doing’ his ‘English prep’ and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“The Tao, which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. 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 has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or…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 posses.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“You cannot go on 'explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on 'seeing through' things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“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.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“For every one pupil who needs to be guarded against 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.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“No justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’, than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey 'people.' People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. If it is held that the instinct for preserving the species should always be obeyed at the expense of other instincts, whence do we derive this rule of precedence? To listen to that instinct speaking in its own case and deciding in its own favour would be rather simple minded. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of all the rest. By the very act of listening to one rather than to others we have already prejudged the case. If we did not bring to the examination of our instincts a knowledge of their comparative dignity we could never learn it from them. And that knowledge cannot itself be instinctive: the judge cannot be one of the parties judged: or, if he is, the decision is worthless and there is no ground for placing preservation of the species above self-preservation or sexual appetite.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“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.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“What we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“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.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“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”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“the difference between the old and the new education being) in a word, the old was a kind of propagation - men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means... the power of some men to make other men what THEY please.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“If my duty to my parents is a superstition, then so is my duty to posterity. If justice is a superstition, then so is my duty to my country or my race. If the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a real value, then so is conjugal fidelity. 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.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“When all that says 'it is good' has been debunked, what says 'I want' remains. (...) The Conditioners, therefore, must come to be motivated simply by their own pleasure. (...) My point is that those who stand outside all judgements of value cannot have any ground for preferring one of their own impulses to another except the emotional strength of that impulse. (...) I am very doubtful myself whether the benevolent impulses, stripped of that preference and encouragement which the Tao teaches us to give them and left to their merely natural strength and frequency as psychological events, will have much influence. I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour,or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of te chest beneath that makes them seem so.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“Another little portion of the human heritage has been quietly taken from them before they were old enough to understand.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
“If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all.”
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

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