There are three very important ideas that C. S. Lewis explicates in his book, The Abolition of Man. The first essay focuses on moral subjectivism, the second on the Tao, and the third on the consequences of living in a morally relativist society. As a dramatic conclusion to these essays, Lewis asserts that if we do not carefully educate ourselves and accept the authority of the Tao we may become heartless men and women, incapable of governing a society of justice and values.
In the first essay, Lewis communicates his philosophy that education plays an important part in the development of ethical values. In addition to this statement, Lewis asserts that children's readers, guised as harmless texts, can convey hidden messages that have potential to harm a child's developing worldview. Much of the first essay is focused on a schoolbook Lewis called "The Green Book". Although Lewis chose a specific model for "The Green Book", it could easily be any one of a whole generation of schoolbooks. Unfortunately, instead of teaching grammar and good writing as these books profess to do, students learn moral relativism. Lewis, who supports the idea of a Tao, natural law, in the next chapter, believes that youth educated by moral relativism are actually being denied the education needed to appreciate the philosophical claim that certain objects and ideas should hold on them as human beings. Lewis believes that a good education should link their experiences to the proper emotion. By reinforcing emotional reactions to beautiful objects, values could be ingrained in their minds. By having a system of belief in their consciousness, they were given a vaccination against savagery. Their hearts kne...
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...ingrained in our minds that we should be able to choose good without having to stop and think about why we value our choice as good. Antigone is a perfect example of this; she boldly defied the law of the state put forth by Creon because she believed, without question, that her brother's dead body deserved to be buried. It is worth noting that in both of these works, and quite possibly in all of human experience, that natural law (or Tao) comes from a deep authority rather than a power of a state or of one person. In both Abolition of Man and "Antigone," the power of subjective law is always less powerful than the authority of the Tao. The abolition of man provides a clear warning to readers that we, as educated people and consumers of future "Green Books," should heed carefully.
Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man. New York: Macmillan, 1965.
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