His books are short, readable, and filled with an uncanny amount of wisdom. The lifeline of depression, the fuel from which it draws all When things get bad, I take out the bourbon. Lewis invites the mind into a conversation, using humor, commonplace observations, and logic. He welcomes you into a warm place, like visiting your grandparents at Christmas when you were eight years old. He takes hold of the worldview that led you to him.
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His books are short, readable, and filled with an uncanny amount of wisdom. The lifeline of depression, the fuel from which it draws all When things get bad, I take out the bourbon. Lewis invites the mind into a conversation, using humor, commonplace observations, and logic. He welcomes you into a warm place, like visiting your grandparents at Christmas when you were eight years old. He takes hold of the worldview that led you to him. With gentle, honest, understanding hands he wraps his palms around the neck of that worldview and proceeds to strangle it until it is dead, dead, dead.
Lewis is known as a Christian writer. Most people I know want absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, to the extent that, for example, a friend of mine told me that despite my fervent recommendation, he refused to listen to anything by Leonard Cohen because he "heard he sang about religion. Be forewarned. The book is divided into three sections.
The first, "Men Without Chests," begins with an example taken from a grade school grammar textbook. In the example, the authors of the textbook imply that there are no sublime things in the world, only feelings of sublimity within us. There is nothing that really deserves respect or castigation, no right responses or ways of thinking about things: there is only opinion. Against this idea Lewis brings to bear the moral and ethical traditions of basically every culture that has ever existed.
He lists all the rather startling similarities between, for example, Confucianism, Greek culture, Hinduism, and Jewish and Christian moral tradition. In fact, in a long appendix at the end of the book, Lewis takes each of these ideas and gives examples of it in a myriad of different cultures throughout history. Lewis calls this group of ethical ideas "The Tao. First, these ideas are of a dual nature. They are somehow natural to man exemplified by their reappearance throughout history , yet at the same time they must be taught from one generation to the next.
I see this in my three year old son. Through great effort, again and again, I try to teach him to respect other people. Not to, for example, hit other people when he is angry. Yet even in my own personal example I can see the duality Lewis talks about. What arguments can I make to dissuade him from hitting someone out of anger? He pointed this out, by the way.
And this is something different than logical argument. In order to do it, there must be some latent sense of Something that already exists within him that my words can latch on to.
Something already within him that the word "wrong" speaks to. So the duality is there, present in the facts that I a have to teach him this and, b can only make him really understand it and feel it by appealing to something which he already possesses and carries with him.
The main point is this: the idea of what one ought to do cannot be brought before the judge of logic. Lewis made me realize that the word "ought," used so often in our culture, is in fact one of the strangest words ever.
What does it really mean? Fortunately and here comes another startling argument from Lewis great thinkers like Aristotle and Plato have already thought over this idea.
What is "ought"? The organ used to judge beauty is one and the same as the organ that tells you what you ought to do. At the time, I thought it was completely ridiculous. But reading it now, in the present, it seemed startlingly true. Years ago, exhausted and tired, my girlfriend and I were driving home from a late night movie.
The streetlight had broken at its base and fallen directly on top of the cab of the truck. In the compressed seconds after the image of the truck flashed by, the following thoughts went through my mind: I ought to pull over this car, run over there, and do what I can to help.
Somebody else with a cell phone will be along in a minute or two. Could I really make any kind of difference? While all these thoughts were going on in my head, my stomach was fluttering with worry. But in between What we often refer to as the heart.
While one part of me was fluttering with emotion, and another part was dithering with logic, this third part spoke its solution with an almost harmonic simplicity. I mean that though my chest my heart spoke a single answer, it felt as if this answer were made of a number of unified objects or notes or ideas. Like when someone strikes an e-major on a well-tuned guitar.
That, I think, is the "ought" that Lewis is talking about. And he is right: it does come from the chest. It is the chest. Compare this to the experience of viewing something really beautiful, such as a cathedral or sculpture or a vast rock wall, full of shades and contrast, carved out over centuries by falling water.
Lewis claims that you will realize, perhaps to your surprise, that the two feelings come from exactly the same organ.
The more I read of books written from the s onward, the more I become convinced that we are all in the middle of a fierce debate that started somewhere around that time, and that continues on to this day. This debate is over the future of mankind, the meaning of progress and, in the end, what it means to be human. The remainder of the book concerns this debate. One hopes that the current reader will regard, as Lewis did, the concept with great distaste.
But however unpopular eugenics may be at the moment, Lewis points out that it is the concepts and philosophical ideas behind eugenics that are what are truly hideous.
Any vision of a perfect utopian society, or of any real progression toward it, must hold somewhere within its core, whether acknowledged or not, the idea that people must be changed.
People must be made "better. The only way is to attempt to change that organ, that function, that I have been trying to describe.
This is the meaning of the title of the book. Lewis argues that the essence of what man is can be found in that organ in the chest, the heart. And in order to achieve utopia, men in power are more than willing to modify, dull, or, if necessary, rip out the heart in order to achieve their goal. And when they do so, they will discover, to their perhaps horror, that what they have left is not a man at all.
Examples of this kind of coerced modification of the chest can be listed endlessly. To use the media to present something as ugly which people never thought of as ugly before. Or to make people think of certain other people as weak and diseased who are not. Or to deliberately try to make people afraid out of all proportion to what they have to fear. Or to attempt to redefine what people ought to do, based on the recommendations of some experts. Or to paint some people as corrupt and evil, and as the cause of the problems of society.
In the end, the ugliness comes from looking at another person and judging them: judging the "ought" they have come to within themselves. That, after all, is what you are doing every time you say you need to make a person or group of people better. As it is, this would just be ugliness. But when the massive power and coercion of the state becomes involved, as it always seems to, then the ugliness turns into something much, much worse.
The course of history over the last century will provide plenty of examples, all provided courtesy of people whose goal was to make mankind better. Of course, now that we all recognize how horrific all of that was, we are no longer engaged in the business of making people better. We are no longer involved in using the pronouncements of doctors, scientists, famous people, and intellectuals to dictate through force or influence what people ought to do, or how they ought to think.
Nor do we disparage those with ideas different from the common culture. Nor does society lean on businesses, artists, and families to believe and behave in certain ways. Now, we recognize that a diverse, vibrant society takes all kinds of viewpoints. As long as none of those viewpoints profess or seem to profess any wrong ideas, all voices are welcome. We invite everyone to join in the national discussion about which of the many new laws being proposed are the best ones to get people to behave more like they ought to, and to move our society into a better future.
Lewis makes. He calls our attention to the nature of science. Accepting that science has certainly given us many wonderful things, can we say anything about what, exactly, science is?
Science is a way of looking at material objects in which we deliberately dismiss some aspects of those objects. Not only spiritual or emotional aspects, but also even physical aspects that are not of concern to the nature of our inquiry. In science, we deliberately blind ourselves to the whole of something, in order to better understand some part of it. Many would argue, perhaps truthfully, that a clear understanding of the parts leads to a better understanding of the whole.
Certainly, a clearer understanding of the parts allows us in many cases to manipulate the whole. Lewis argues that, in doing this, we are making a kind of deal. The result will be increased ability to get the stuff we want: medicines, airplanes, cheap food, more leisure time, sex without pregnancy. And what are we giving up to get all this stuff that we want? Are we giving up anything? Before I read this book, my answer would have been: "No.
What could we possibly be giving up? Lewis states emphatically that he is not anti-science.
LA ABOLICION DEL HOMBRE
Al mismo tiempo, nada bueno puedo decir de ellos. Por lo tanto, he decidido ocultar sus nombres. Pero les aseguro que este libro existe y que lo tengo en mi biblioteca. En realidad Pues incluso desde su propio punto de vista -o desde el que sea-, el hombre que dice Esto es sublime no puede querer decir Tengo sentimientos sublimes. Pero no queremos detenernos en esto.
La Abolicion del Hombre
C. S. Lewis, “La abolición del hombre”