Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Abolition of Man

The Abolition f Man is a book written by the famous author C.S. Lewis.  For an ethics class, I was to read the book and write a summary/response to Lewis' ideas.  Even though it was a difficult read, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as it opened my mind to a new perception of modern science.  I must admit I had a little trouble comprehending Lewis' eloquent writing style, so I used the following two websites to help me understand what he was trying to convey while writing my response:

The Abolition of Man Summary/Response

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis addresses the idea of a natural law of morality, which he calls the Tao, that leads mankind’s definition of right and wrong.  Lewis explains the need for such morality to be taught in schools by providing a connection between emotion and ethics, which later in life will provide the students with a will and reason behind the choices they make.  Students who have been educated in this way and who can stand in the face of a moral dilemma and stand firm in their beliefs with strong support are considered to be men with chests; however, students who do not have emotion and meaning backing their definition of ethics will crumble in the event of a moral choice and are considered to be men without chests.  Although emotions can be weak and mercurial, trained emotions can be used to guide a person’s views rather than leaving him to rely solely on reason, which can only take him so far.  The idea of Reason is often used in such a way as to “debunk” emotion, exposing it as fickle and unreliable.  With Reason as his weapon, a man can say, “This is how we can preserve society;” however, Reason cannot supply an answer to the question of, “Why should society be preserved?”  Inherent emotions and morals, or the Tao, provides society and life with a meaning and purpose that Reason cannot, and therefore the structure of Reason faces great limitations as defense for a man’s argument.  Still, society continues to shift away from moral values and towards science and Reason.  Science has given mankind a certain power over nature, allowing man to control his surroundings.  For example, natural selection has enabled a couple to choose the specific gender and genetic makeup of their child, and birth control and abortion give a woman power over her pregnancy.  On a lesser note, if someone is cold, he no longer must chop down a tree and build a fire but can rather turn on an electric heater.  Science has distributed power into society; however, the total amount of power is limited, meaning as one group gains power, another group must lose power.  As a result, only a small minority grows increasingly powerful while the rest of society grows increasingly powerless.  In the example of natural selection, the husband and wife, or in some cases only a mother, has the ability to choose which of the twenty-four babies will survive and which will be killed.  As the minority (the parents) gains power, the majority (the babies or the twenty-four fertilized eggs) loses power.  Because Reason is becoming such a strong force in society, people are encouraged to surrender their natural emotions for science.  Ray Bradbury explores a world where society has completely abandoned emotion and values in his novel Fahrenheit 451.  In Bradbury’s fictional future, which modern society is frighteningly beginning to resemble, individuals are discouraged from spending time in deep thought and are encouraged to divert their attention to meaningless technologies such as giant TV screens displaying mindless entertainment.  The officials of this society shove science and technology down the throats of the people in order to blind them from emotion because emotion leads to the formation of strong opinions, which could be used as a dangerous tool against the minority (the officials) that hold the power.  Within our current society, people are giving up their souls for science by wasting away in front of a computer on social media sites rather than spending time getting to know God through prayer, pondering the meanings for the way things are, or formulating valid opinions and views.  The majority is falling into monotonous, robotic, and powerless lifestyle that is brought about by Reason rather than delving in the purpose for life.  If science and Reason continue as they do on a path set on destroying natural values, they will soon reach a point where they are destroying everything they have built up, for eventually they will face the values of knowledge, understanding, and learning, which are what drive and support Reason itself.  In conclusion, the Tao, or the inherent morals and emotions that rule and motivate our world, are necessary in order to keep a balance of power, values, and purpose within modern society.

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