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In the classic The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis, the most important Christian writer of the 20th century, sets out to persuade his audience of the importance and relevance of universal values such as courage and honor in contemporary society. He also makes a cogent case that a retreat from these pillars of our educational system, even if in the name of “scientism,” would be catastrophic. Both astonishing and prophetic, The Abolition of Man is one of the most debated of Lewis’ extraordinary works. National Review chose it as number seven on their “100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century.”
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“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.” (Page 26)
“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. 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.” (Pages 13–14)
“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.” (Page 19)
“From this point of view, 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.” (Page 55)
“Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.” (Page 64)
A real triumph.
—Owen Barfield, author, Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry