Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Abolition of Man, by C.S. Lewis

It has been a long time I've posted here. I am going to try and post regularly every weekend from now on (until I run out of books to review). Perhaps I will be able to resurrect this blog.

Like Mere Christianity, this book is based on things he said orally, in this case a lecture. Lewis argued that the danger we face in society is a reductionistic Scientism which ends up turning Man himself into just another object of Nature and thus totally subsumed by it. Basicallly, the paradox is that as humanity increases in technological and scientific knowledge in order to gain mastery over Nature, it also gives up a little bit of its humanity as well until human beings themselves are considered only products of Nature to be shaped at the will of their Molders. He sees a Brave New World-type situation emerging if things don't turn around.

All this stems from reducing objective statements like, "This flower is majestically beautiful," to "He merely gets a happy feeling when he looks at the flower." In other words, it is taking what is an objective statement about the reality of the flower and turning it to just a subjective feeling. This gets worse when applied to moral statements. The Moral Law or the Tao that all societies have known (but of course none has fully followed) is completely denied by the above debunkers of aesthetic statements. Certainly not compeletely denied since the debunkers have values themselves that they believe are exempt from the debunking process. But if reductionism has its way, it will be more difficult for these debunkers to protect the pieces of the Tao that they do believe in from the onslaught.

This is a very short book but a very important one given our current state of conflict between various worldviews.


Jim Jordan said...

Lewis knew exactly what we are facing today. I thought I had all his books but I don't have this one. Thanks for the review!

Ron said...

Good to see you, Jim. :)