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The Abolition of Man [Paperback]

C. S. Lewis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jun 1999

C S Lewis’s philosophical defence of Natural Law (absolute morality) – without which human beings are reduced to less than fully human, and are, thus ‘abolished’.

CS Lewis argues that objective value actually exists and that to believe otherwise is to create nonsense. Human beings appreciate values such as beauty and goodness because such things are part of reality – but if absolute morality is denied there will not be any progress for mankind as the things that matter most will be explained away.

‘I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently.’

Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Fount; New edition edition (7 Jun 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006281397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006281399
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,619,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a fellow and tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954 when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics, the Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Product Description

From the Back Cover

“ If someone were to come to me and say that, excepting the Bible, everyone on earth was going to be required to read one and the same book, and then ask what it should be, I would with no hesitation say 'The Abolition of Man'. It is the most perfectly reasoned defence of Natural Law (Morality) I have ever seen, or believe to exist. If any book is able to save us from future excesses of folly and evil, it is this book.”

“No review can do justice to C.S. Lewis: his writing has a clarity and authority that are impossible to convey. He must be read.”

“It is a real triumph. There may be a piece of contemporary writing in which precision of thought, liveliness of expression and depth of meaning unite with the same felicity, but I have not come across it.”

About the Author

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a fellow and tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954 when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
There are not many books which I think everyone should read. This slim volume is one of them. Here C. S. Lewis explains in the clearest way imaginable why all the attempts to "debunk" humankind are flawed. E.g. attempting to reduce humans to the product of evolution, or to our psychology and social background. The essential argument is this: if we argue that our innate sense of right and wrong is arbitrary and so seek to replace it with something else, where do we get the belief that our new morality is desirable from? Must it not, in the end, be justified from the innate morality it seeks to replace? (The alternative is that it is not justified at all.) This is a compelling and exciting book. Don’t take my word for it: read it yourself!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Education Develops Man's Sense of Morality 5 Feb 1998
By A Customer
In this terse discussion about ethics, specifically how education develops man's sense of morality, Lewis argues that there are indeed objective values, denying the relativistic viewpoint of those who postulate that all values are fictional creations from the subjective mind of mankind. He also convincingly demonstrates how those who educate the young inevitably influence students' views on the matter by the very language used in their schoolbooks. Far from being an abstruse topic that has little bearing on our every day lives, subjective relativism has long term adverse consequences for members of society who come under its influence. Given wide enough application, it could ultimately destroy mankind. The appendix to THE ABOLITON OF MAN is quite helpful, listing examples of common values held by people of many different societies and cultures, pointing to an objective law, or "Tao". It does indeed show that there is a desire for a way of life that is better and more just, for mercy and kindness, which is seen in the different cultures around the globe. If there were not divine law and objective values, then we humans would be - as the animals seem to be - satisfied with any 'ole way of living. This book is just a bit dense in spots (which is why I rate it with a 9 instead of 10), but still readable and quite peritinent to today's western society. For related material in a little less left brained presentation, see Lewis's THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH or MERE CHRISTIANITY.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So old, yet so relevent! 19 May 2006
CS Lewis' book here is an incredible prophesy of how he saw the western world moving forward, a world where what was triumphed as 'man's power over nature' turned into 'man's power over other men, using nature as his (or her, I'm sure) instrument'.

This is an incredible book packed with so many truthes about modern day life you would struggle to believe it has been around for 50+ years!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Why such a foreboding title for a book on education? Lewis starts his book with a critique of a textbook for elementary schoolchildren on English, but goes on to draw conclusions from the book's authors' worldview about the ultimate end of the quest for subjective ethics. It is Lewis' thesis that ethics do not come from man, and any attempt to create a "new" ethic starting from man will inevitably result in the annihilation of both ethics and the human race. In the light of Western society's journey through modernism and into post-modernism, this little book just gets more and more timely with every passing day. It also contains a helpful appendix, Illustrations from the Tao, which shows that the basic principles of ethics are universal: common to all cultures and all times.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C.S. Lewis's Next Greatest Book 2 July 1997
By A Customer
After Mere Christianity I think this is C.S.Lewis' greatest book. This is not at all a treatise on Christianity. In fact he employs his alacrity with the other schools of religious thought to better make his points. Its focus is on subtle turns of phrases employed in school texts that diminish and undermine the the man's unique ability to impute quality of character, nobility, and beauty to objects and events. One chapter called Men Without Chests is a phrase that will haunt you time and again as you think back on this book when discussing why things seem better than ever in the world today... yet people feel more shallow and empty and don't know why. The book discusses how man is teaching away his humanity. It is inspired by a simple line quoted from a school text book about a waterfall. At first it is difficult to see what C.S. Lewis feels so passionate about but well before the end of the book you understand clearly. This is a book that can bring you into focus and may have a lasting impact on the way you look at the world. By the books end you may find yourself even more human than when you began.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Western Civilization is Falling. 26 Jan 2001
By A Customer
...and The Abolition of Man explains why. We have become materialists and sacrificed all the most important spiritual beliefs that make us something other than mere animals. Man has abolished his own humanity in his quest to "conquer the world." Great reading. Also recommended: "Castle of Wisdom," a Christian book by Rhett Ellis, another great book, even if it is a bit on the strange side.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barely digestible brilliance 6 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As several other reviewers have noted, this book starts with an excessively distracting rant about some mid-20th Century school textbook. And it seems to go on for ages, feeling unjust in its criticism of an inadvertent philosophical faux pas that the authors of this long-forgotten textbook have made.

But if you can only bare with it and keep going you realise that the vital point he is making is buried in the heart of the book, and actually the subliminal nature of reductionist and relativistic thinking is just the problem he is talking about. It was only about half way through the book that I realised what CS Lewis' message was and, more importantly, how pertinent it is to public life in 2013 Britain. Stunning.

Because of the format it is fairly inaccessible for average readers like me, but in terms of the central idea this book is a potential life-changer. An easy 5 stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Kindle thanks
Published 16 days ago by david milligan
5.0 out of 5 stars Abolition of man - challenging read
I bought this as it is meant to be a seminal work. I am a scientist and therefore found this book really hard work, but it was worth all the effort to read and re-read until I made... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Neale
5.0 out of 5 stars A man that understands the world
He has a gift for exposing and elegantly conveying the truth. A short number but one that everyone should read and meditate on
Published 3 months ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars life changing
I feel validated after reading this. All I have thought to be wrong with society demonstrated more eloquently than any modern author could. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dai A G Prout
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
C.S .Lewis is such a profound and thought-provoking author, and his writing is so lucid, it's a pleasure to read.
Published 7 months ago by Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking read
This is a thought-provoking read, in classic C.S. Lewis style. I would not go as far as he does with the consequences of naturalistic philosophy being subtly brought into education... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Gail Potgieter
5.0 out of 5 stars well received
This was bought as a present for my brother who had been after it for a while. He loved it!
Published 18 months ago by N. C. Grace
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the subtitle fool you - this is Lewis's logic at its best
"The Abolition of Man (or) Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of Englihs in the Upper Forms of School" stands as one of the single most eloquent and... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mike London
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tao of C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis pulls no punches in this book, "The Abolition of Man". Since I disagree with Lewis on virtually everything (I'm a feminist, for starters), reading this book was a real... Read more
Published on 10 April 2011 by Ashtar Command
5.0 out of 5 stars Universal rules for knowing what to do or not to do
This famous 50-page survey of Natural Law thinking is one of Professor Lewis's tougher but more important works and with the current revival of NL thinking it... Read more
Published on 8 Dec 2010 by Michael JR Jose
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