The Abolition of Man is perhaps the best defense of natural law to be
published in the twentieth century. The book is outstanding not because
its ideas are original, but because it presents so clearly the common
sense of the subject, brilliantly encapsulating the Western natural law
tradition in all its Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian glory. Interestingly,
Lewis' defense of objective morality here resonates not only with ideas
from the giants of Western thought (including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine,
and Aquinas), but also draws on the wisdom of the East, including Confucius and the sages of Hinduism.
In "The Abolition of Man" C.S. Lewis developed three lectures entitled
"Men without Chests'', "The Way", and "The Abolition of Man". In them he
set out to attack and confute what he saw as the errors of his age. He
started by quoting some fashionable lunacy from an educationalists'
textbook, from which he developed a general attack on moral subjectivism.
In his second lecture he argued against various contemporary isms, which
purported to replace traditional objective morality. His final lecture,
"The Abolition of Man", which also provided the title of the book
published the following year, was a sustained attack on hard-line
The first essay, "Men without Chests," indicted the modern attempt to
debunk objective virtues and sentiments. According to Lewis, traditional
moral theorists believed that virtues such as ...
... middle of paper ...
the dictates of conscience and by the constituted order of things in
nature. That is why, all that being so, "we have cause to be uneasy",
because faced with this Law (Tao) of God, with Absolute Goodness, and
demands therein, we see we that we have "all sinned and come short of the
glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
When we take some time to ponder the meanings of The Abolition of Man and
its writings, we see that Lewis' essays were not new ideas at all. In the
contrary, they were reminders of what man has intrinsically known since
the beginning of time. As Samuel Johnson once said, 'Man is in need more
frequently of being reminded than informed.'
Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man. Ontario: The MacMillan Company, 1947.
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