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Benjamin McLean

  • "The Abolition of Man" Simplified Part 1 "Men Without Chests"

    13,407 views 4 years ago
    I attempt to explain, in five minutes, the first part of C. S. Lewis's incredible philosophy book, "The Abolition of Man" and it's vitally important message about ethics and value judgments.

    See Part 2: http://youtu.be/Z60lncsXQrE
    See Part 3: http://youtu.be/yrTG8P93J8g

    My remarks:

    The Abolition of Man is a short philosophy book by C. S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century. Many people know he was a friend of JRR Talkien. Most people only remember him for his Chronicles of Narnia books but it's his non-fiction that he ought to be remembered for. That's what people in England wanted to hear on the radio while the Blitz was going on outside.

    Lewis was a classicist which means he agreed with Plato and Aristotle alot and considered himself a converted pagan in a world of apostate Christians. He had a way of introducing paradigm shifts that turn modern thought completely around. Rather than vainly trying to hit unbelievers over the head with the authority of scripture as so many would-be Christian apologists have unfortunately tried to do, Lewis defended his ideas through force of argument and tried to get people to examine and challenge their own philosophical presuppositions. The fundamentals of his philosophy are outlined in, "The Abolition of Man."

    The thesis of this book is that if we debunk and abolish traditional moral values and gain control over the conscience of man as science has enabled us to control other things in nature, it will result in the eventual Abolition of Man, the dehumanization of humanity. Abolish man's conscience and you abolish man. Although Lewis is a theist and argues for theism elsewhere, he makes no attempt to argue for the existence of God or any particular religion in this book. A staunch atheist could completely agree with The Abolition of Man and yet remain a staunch atheist.

    Lewis writes of two opposing views, the world of the Green Book and the world of the Tao. The world of the Tao is a broad generalization that contains the traditional moralities of both East and West; the Bhuddist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Socratic all lumped together. Lewis refers to, "the sole source of all value judgements" and calls it the Tao. The Tao is, he asserts, not something we can change, for it ceases to be the Tao when we do. Judgements in the world of the Tao are right or wrong like mathematical statements.

    But in the world of the Green Book, all value judgements are subjective. The Green Book itself is an actual English textbook which, perhaps accidentally, teaches unwary children that all sentences containing a predicate of value are not statements about qualities inherent in their subjects but are really unimportant statements about the speaker's own feelings. Lewis first points out that this amateur philosophy is absolutely out of place in an English textbook regardless of it's validity and proceeds to tear the position to shreds anyway.

    Lewis wrote, "Until quite modern times all teachers and even all men believed the universe to be such that certain emotional reactions on our part could be either congruous or incongruous to it—believed, in fact, that objects did not merely receive, but could merit, our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt." "The educational problem is wholly different according as you stand within or without the Tao. For those within, the task is to train in the pupil those responses which are in themselves appropriate, whether anyone is making them or not, and in making which the very nature of man consists. Those without, if they are logical, must regard all sentiments as equally non-rational, as mere mists between us and the real objects. As a result, they must either decide to remove all sentiments, as far as possible, from the pupil's mind; or else to encourage some sentiments for reasons that have nothing to do with their intrinsic 'justness' or 'ordinacy'. The latter course involves them in the questionable process of creating in others by 'suggestion' or incantation a mirage which their own reason has successfully dissipated."

    Lewis models the mind of man in a Platonic division of three - the head, center of intelligence, the stomach, center of desire and the chest, center of will. He argues that removing all sentiments from the mind as many modern so-called "rationalists" try to do produces, "Men Without Chests" that value judgements are an essential part of clear thinking. And that's just part 1, there are three other parts to this book. Show less
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  • The Abolition of Man Simplified Play

    In this half-hour series of videos, Ben McLean explains C. S. Lewis's 1943 philosophy book, "The Abolition of Man" in great depth. It should be a very helpful starting point for anyone interested in studying "The Abolition of Man" and the philosophy of C. S. Lewis in depth. It's vital message about the natural law in ethics is timely now more than ever!
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