The Abolition of Man

by

C. S. Lewis

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Themes and Colors
Education, Emotional Sentiment, and Ethics Theme Icon
Objective Value, Human Virtue, and Societal Health Theme Icon
Traditional Values vs. Innovation Theme Icon
Nature, Science, and the Abolition of Man Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Abolition of Man, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Education, Emotional Sentiment, and Ethics

The Abolition of Man originated as a lecture series that C. S. Lewis delivered at the University of Durham in 1943, critiquing current methods of teaching English and their implications for broader society. He bases his argument on an English textbook he was asked to review, which he refers to as The Green Book, and he gives its authors the pseudonyms Gaius and Titius. Lewis staunchly attacks Gaius and Titius’s educational approach, because…

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Objective Value, Human Virtue, and Societal Health

After establishing the importance of rightly-formed emotional sentiment in modern education, Lewis develops his underlying principle of the Tao—a concept that must not be confused simply with Taoism, because it is “Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental alike.” While these various worldviews might seem to defy generalization, Lewis contends that they have a very important principle in common: “It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and…

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Traditional Values vs. Innovation

After arguing for the existence of the “Tao,” or the objectivity of value and ethics, Lewis goes on, “Let us suppose that an Innovator in values regards dulce et decorum and greater love hath no man as mere irrational sentiments which are to be stripped off in order that we may get down to the ‘realistic’ or ‘basic’ ground of this value. Where will he find such a ground?” Here, Lewis cites two…

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Nature, Science, and the Abolition of Man

In his final lecture, Lewis finally arrives at the idea of “the abolition of man.” So far, he has argued for the indispensability of reason-based sentiments in education, the continued validity of objective value, and the emptiness of innovations that are not grounded on traditional principles. Now, in his climactic lecture, he builds on these ideas by describing modern science as an attempt to conquer nature and thereby to mold humanity to the conquerors’ liking…

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