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The Abolition of Man Paperback – 7 Jun 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Fount; New edition edition (7 Jun. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006281397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006281399
  • Package Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,595,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.”
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

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is based on Lewis' lectures at University of Durham in 1943. Over 70 years on, the text describes exactly the path that we have gone down, making this book read like prophecy. This is the power of Lewis' insight which still benefits us today by illuminating the folly we are in and the "final stage" we are heading - the abolition of man! Is there still time to arrest the trend? I think not not because it's too late but because few people are warned. Perhaps we all should read this book and make an informed choice - do we really want that future for our offspring if we are lucky enough to have escaped the knife ourselves?

The pressure is on to eradicate all the fundamental core values that we hold. We see our traditional values being assaulted without stirring much alarm. We reason on some of the first principles that define us as human, and human nature is the final area of "Nature" that we seek to conquer or overpower. Then who are we? Lewis argues, 'Man's conquest of Nature turns out, in the moment of its consummation, to be Nature's conquest of Man.' (p. 41) 'We have been trying like Lear, to have it both ways: to lay down our human prerogative and yet at the same time to retain it. It is impossible.' (p.43)

I must say, as pointed out by Lewis, schools today play a crucial role in "conditioning" our kids and the future generation under the regulation of the state. What Lewis has argued has happened at school today, and sadly for us, we do not have a critical voice as forceful, articulate and eloquent to expose the danger of this path for everyone to see. A sober read.
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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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A superb book, even more relevant today than when it wasn't written. I've already read 'Mere Christianity' and the Narnia and Hideous Strength books but I only came across this because of reading quotes posted on the internet and being amazed that Lewis had summed up so succinctly what I had been thinking for some time - that as a society we are currently sawing off the branch we are sitting on, by undermining traditional values and ethics without having anything solid to replace them with. This should be a required text for all school children to read. Along with Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451' and Robert Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance'
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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 sense of the arguments.
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Much celebrated, this is a horrendously difficult and arcane text to read. Good service and good quality book, however.
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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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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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