Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Abolition of Man

In a post quoting from and commenting on C.S. Lewis's Abolition of Man [1943] there is a link to an online version of that book, provided "because the book is only in print sporadically." It is a very nice to have it available in this form. The individual links:
  1. Men Without Chests
  2. The Way
  3. The Abolition of Man
  4. Appendix-Illustrations of the Tao
Although the book was written in the midst of the Second World War, Lewis was concerned about dangers which would outlast the Nazis:
I am not here thinking solely, perhaps not even chiefly, of those who are our public enemies at the moment. The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many a mild-eyed scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany. Traditional values are to be 'debunked' and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. .... [The Abolition of Man, Chapter 3]
From the flyleaf of my 1947 American edition:
The book is a forceful and brilliantly effective demonstration of the necessity of teaching "the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false." Humanity, if it is to survive and progress, must obey the traditional morality common to its conception in all forms, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental; for that is 'the Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and time." It is the Way by which a regenerate science can "conquer Nature without being at the same time conquered by her and buy knowledge at lower cost than that of life."
As it happens, the book is currently available as a mass market paperback and in a Kindle edition, but the hardcover is not in print and a "used" one at Amazon is listed at $127.

The Abolition of Man