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The Abolition of Man: Or Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools (Riddell memorial lectures) Paperback – 1 Jun 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 109 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (1 Jun. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684823713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684823713
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,782,766 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.


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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.”
WALTER HOOPER

“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.”
CHURCH OF ENGLAND NEWSPAPER

“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.”
OWEN BARFIELD

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of elementary text books. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Julian Gardiner on 4 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Feb. 1998
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Oct. 1997
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T Holton on 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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 July 1997
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gail Potgieter on 7 Mar. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 (I still think that children who learn morality at home will be less likely to fall into these traps at school). Yet, I do think that his warning is relevant for today - school-leavers are not taught to closely examine what they are fed at university, but rather blindly follow whatever 'the experts' say. As a result, few students ever think critically about dubious 'scientific' theories such as evolution. The naturalistic philosophy that comes with evolution leads on to the logical conclusion that humans are just another species of mammal, and morality and truth are not objective realities. The resulting acceptance of evil and falsehood as the norm are fulfillments of what C.S. Lewis was considering in his day.
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