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Unpacking C.S. Lewis's Abolition of Man

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
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December 13, 2021 1:19 pm

Unpacking C.S. Lewis's Abolition of Man

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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December 13, 2021 1:19 pm

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs sits down with Michael Ward, author of After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. Ward discusses the importance of Lewis’s most philosophical work in today’s society, and how his “guide book” can help non-philosophers understand and apply the critical practices Lewis addresses.

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The look of the family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Rustin, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will fold better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters. Tracy David Griggs, thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters.

Few people are unfamiliar with the name CS Lewis in his ballistic writing, especially his fictional series the Chronicles of Narnia.

However, his book the abolition of man has a reputation among many for being inaccessible and difficult to read. While no more. Thanks to a new book by scholar Michael Ward Michael Ward is a member of the faculty of theology and religion at the University of Oxford and Prof. of apologetics at Houston Baptist University. He joins us today to discuss his newest book after humanity, a guide to CS Lewis is the abolition of man Michael Ward.

Can't wait to read this one. Welcome to family policy matters to Tracy what you already provided commentary on Lewis's Narnia books.

We know so why did you decide to tackle the abolition of man next. The major causes. I was asked to write forward to the new addition of the abolition of man as I wrote the forward agreement agreement grew to become a stumbling book I've talked about my students many years I know how difficult way. I found it I thought it was worth putting out a stumbling book to help people through this important but difficult work and am very pleased that the publishers of my book were able to persuade the publishers of CS Lewis's book to produce a time. In addition, so when you get off the humanity. You can also get a matching copy of Susan was his abolition of I love the fact that you have taught this to students who probably were not afraid to ask the supposedly stupid questions that most of us might be afraid to ask but is why the abolition of man do you think is so widely admired and so difficult to understand for many it is very widely admired working in DC is loose himself described as almost my favorite among my books and hundreds of mods across the spectrum from every kind of Christian through to a seriously modern British atheist philosopher gold. John Gray thinks is a very prescient and prophetic book evangelical Anglican Alan Jacobson school of the most profound of Lewis's cultural critiques Joseph yet. Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict's. He is described as having a keen accuracy and its moral diagnosis, so it is very widely admired but it's also as you say, by Lewis's standards of any right quite inaccessible is quite difficult. He's operating at quite a high academic standards. It originated as a series of philosophy lectures, it's definitely worth unpacking the lease.

These complexities. It's not something unnecessarily comes easy to people and doesn't come easy to me.

I don't know why my philosopher, myself. I've a more literary critic and a theologian, Lewis here is working in full philosophical mood and so there are no stupid questions. I only asks every question conceivable as I put is going to give nothing is to to difficult to easy to be with explaining that this was uniquely personal and relevant to Lewis's own life. So why do you think that is it is an argument about the objectivity of value and Lewis would come to a belief in the objectivity of value long before he became a theist or a Christian so it's heat heat grappled with subjectivism. The idea that value is purely a projection from Morrow and interior preferences and private whims grappled with the philosophy in his pre-Christian days and concluded that it doesn't true it doesn't correct. So he needs scenes through subjectivism and having seen through it.

He wanted to share with other people, though, the way round this problem because it it has become a very common philosophical position audits is wrong.

It's a mistake and so he's trying to say why is one reason why it comes up from his own personal experience. Another aspect is the in the course of the abolition of man.

He repeatedly talks about how the real test of objective value is his willingness to suffer and maybe even done in defense of the good and Lewis himself a very nearly died during the first world war he salute the pantry don't tick value was was an objective value and he and I'm risking his own life in defense of his country in the first mobile was something that he should do.

Even though course from a subjective point of view, it will be very pleasant for them. I did it wasn't pleasant. He was blown up in the trenches of France in the spring of 1919, very nearly killed. He sold men die on either side of them, but just because you have to suffer, maybe even risk death in defense of the good is no reason to conclude, therefore, the value is is merely subjective. If it well maybe subjective, then when you had to suffer when the thing became inconvenient for you. You change your view of the fact you go through with your commitment to a particular thing, whatever may be loyalty to one's marriage commitment to one's work, and indeed loyalty to one's nation, even when listings are inconvenient, reminds us that value is objected. We don't just make it up philosophical anthropology and you talk about how Lewis explores this. Could you start by telling us what is meant by philosophical anthropology.

Anthropology just means you will understanding of humanity and through pulse in Greek means man, so a philosophy of humanity is really what Lewis is presenting here is trying to explain how the philosophical point of view from an ethical philosophical point of view. We all human beings are not only the animals on the one hand, or angels on the other. So he's is trying to define what it is that makes us specifically and uniquely human. And it is that we all rational tools angels have a rational spirit animals have have sensible appetites, human beings have both on its integrating these two aspects of our nature that he's really concerned with in this book he say about the role of education in this discussion. Yeah, education is a very important aspects of the whole presentation because Lou, he's arguing that value is objective and it's a premise it's like and is as basic as 2+2 equals full which we we just discovered to be the case we don't make them out.

So, in matters of right and wrong, good and evil.

There are certain absolutely fundamental treaties which we we just have to see them not to see them is, is to be deficient in the human body.

Just as people have to be taught mathematics when the little so we have to be told morality. It may be self-evident once you see it but until you sit at your mathematically innumerate. All of them are really immature is what you guys so much of the importance of parenthood is indeed in training up little boys and go to know right from wrong, good from evil will see it. Once you show it to them, but you have to show it to them. Otherwise they just remain little beasts needs to be a very cynical person to understand the children (devices went put only the moral muscle that will enable them to become balanced and humane individuals. The criticisms of culture today, especially in light of social media and at and marketing and fast food restaurants is that people do not have the appetite or the attention span to dig deep into philosophy, such as your suggesting why is this important for us to to buckle down and do do you think was very important that we we buckle down and pay attention to Lewis's argument because we see the correctness of his of his warming whole around the seat. He warns that unless we do integrate all all rational faculty and sensible appetite unless we combine these two aspects and become truly human then we will be on the short road to disaster and that's what he calls his book the abolition of man you. He's only on the one hand he's defending objective value. On the other hand, he's pointing out how and if we give up on the objectivity of value will be on the short road to kind of self-destruction will be bringing about all right abolition will either be evaporating upwards into a kind of full spirituality, all will be descending downwards into mere animality.

By the way, we went be human and I think if you look around in our multicultural you see you see a lot of incompletely human people who are either denying that embodied all blessing and nothing I feel must be right, simply because I feel it and then in both eyes. Ways see the truth.

The accuracy of Lewis's warnings about about this is vitally important moral question and he did mention the keywords rational and sensible and I think as you just said you can look around and go. There are so many things that are being said in the public square.

Right now that are not rational.

Don't even make sessions. Can you talk specifically about a few of the issues that we might be facing that a study like this would help us to grapple with.

Yeah well I'm in there many many prominent political and social issues to do with sexual behavior, gender identity, truthfulness and politics on those sorts of things and so we can see it on a large scale in in the culture at large, but I think really it's it's it's most important to bring it to ourselves as individuals and ask ourselves where it is that we try to wriggle out of the objectivity of value because it's easy to point the finger at other people, but we need to take the speck out of all right and I will below category night before. We stopped dealing with other people's problems so you know I already mentioned it's an objectively valuable thing to be loyal to your marriage vows. If your marriage undoubtedly there will be periods in your marriage when you when you go through difficulty. When you go through very choppy waters, but positive. The objectivity of value is his veracity.

And if you've made a promise.

You need to stick to it. That's just a very simple example of how Lewis's argument is is deeply relevant to each and every one of us.

It's not just a big political, social, letter is a great point because it's so easy as a net to as you sat to a point the finger at other people and to find ways that other people have been offensive to bring it home to ourselves.

First, I think is a great point. Thank you for making that select same.

Our listeners order the book they get your book along with CS Lewis's abolition of man, how to tackle this tell us what we should do when we get those books well it depends how well you know she is different. Since you already familiar with mere Christianity. You will recall how in that book. The first four chapters of mere Christianity talk about right and wrong as a clue to the meaning of the universe and never in mere Christianity, Lewis is making very much the same argument as he makes in abolition of man, except much more accessible popular level.

So if you already familiar with. With that argument but you might just plunge straight into the abolition of bun or you might provide to stop reading my introductory chapters and offer humanity as a way of lumbering up for the August event. People should they want to get the bookcase through the publisher's website, so the book is published by on five academic if you order it through that website then you automatically get this free time. In addition, the abolition of man with a matching cover is something going through Amazon or some other books I like to go to word on five academic as you said, if you want the book by Michael Ward and that is entitled after humanity guide to CS Lewis says abolition of man you need to go to the word on fire academic website in order it from there and you will get his book along with the abolition of man. At the same time so Michael Ward Q so much for being with us today on family policy matters.

You been listening to family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plenitude in again next week to listen to the show online and to learn more about NC families work to encourage and inspire families across Carolina or website it NC family.award that's NC Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family

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