The Abolition of Man Book Summary - The Abolition of Man Book explained in key points

The Abolition of Man summary

C.S. Lewis

Brief summary

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis delves into the consequences of rejecting foundational moral values and the educational system's role in shaping the character of individuals. Lewis argues for the importance of objective truth and the preservation of universal values.

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    The Abolition of Man
    Summary of key ideas

    The Basis of All Value Judgments

    In the thought provoking book, The Abolition of Man, revered author C.S. Lewis delves into the realm and impact of value judgments. Lewis starts by critiquing a textbook, which he respectfully veils as "The Green Book" and its authors as "Gaius and Titius." He faults the book's deconstruction of the term 'values', voicing alarm at this manner of teaching that strips morality of any objective standard.

    Lewis posits that Gaius and Titius, by suggesting that all value judgments are nothing more than subjective statements about our emotional states, deny the existence of any universal moral law, consequently uprooting the very foundation of ethics. With this perspective, Lewis ushers us into understanding the universal moral law or 'Tao', grounded not on shifting subjective feelings but on objective, unchanging truth.

    The Tao: The Universal Moral Law

    Upon presenting his assertion, Lewis invites us to explore 'Tao', defining it as the encompassing reality that transcends cultures and individuals, the root of all genuine value judgments, the source of all moral rules that govern humans. He asserts that 'Tao' is not an external imposition, but an intrinsic, universal order that aligns with human nature, and underscores that value judgments are not mere emotional responses, but acknowledgments of objective truths embedded in 'Tao'.

    'Tao', according to Lewis, is impaired when it is redefined and subject to the individual’s subjective emotional states. He asserts that when authentic morality is replaced by subjective feelings, man is devalued and debased, and society's moral compass is unhinged.

    Consequences of Abandoning the Tao

    The middle part of The Abolition of Man discusses in depth the possible consequences of our abandonment of the 'Tao'. This section paints a bleak picture of a future where moral subjectivism reigns, leading to the abolition of humanity’s nature and the rise of a condition where the empirical 'man' manipulates the emotional 'man'. Lewis argues that in such a society, the real power is handed to those who control the societal norms, opening avenues to despotism and manipulation.

    Lewis further alarms us about a future where a class of conditioners have the power to shape future generations according to their will. Here, man ceases to be a creature with inherent worth governed by moral laws, becoming instead a malleable product designed by the conditioners.

    The Case for Realizing Objective Values

    Lewis’s argument reaches a climax when he urges the rejection of moral subjectivism and the embracing of the objective values enshrined in 'Tao'. He ardently appeals to his readers to acknowledge that real right and wrong exist outside their personal feelings. Only by doing this, Lewis believes, can humanity mature morally and spiritually instead of being reduced to a product of conditioning and manipulation.

    In essence, The Abolition of Man confronts its readers with the chilling consequences of breaking away from universal objective values and echoes an urgent plea for embracing them as the underpinning of a truly human society. It offers a fierce defense of the objective truth and moral order that C.S. Lewis believes are imperative to preserving our humanity.

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    What is The Abolition of Man about?

    In "The Abolition of Man," C.S. Lewis argues against the idea that science and technology can provide a complete understanding of the world and guide our moral decisions. He warns against the consequences of reducing human values to mere subjective preferences, and advocates for a return to objective moral truths and the recognition of universal human values. This thought-provoking book challenges the prevailing attitudes towards education, ethics, and the nature of humanity.

    The Abolition of Man Review

    The Abolition of Man (1943) explores the consequences of modern education and the loss of traditional values in society. Here's why you should read this thought-provoking book:

    • Provides a profound critique of the modern education system, revealing the dangers of reducing everything to mere subjectivity and emotion.
    • Raises important questions about the nature of objective values and the impact of moral relativism on individuals and society.
    • Offers compelling arguments for the preservation of universal values, reminding readers of the importance of cultivating character and virtue.

    Who should read The Abolition of Man?

    • Readers who are interested in ethical and moral philosophy
    • Individuals seeking a deeper understanding of the nature of education and its impact on society
    • Those who appreciate thought-provoking books that challenge the status quo

    About the Author

    C.S. Lewis was a renowned British author and scholar, best known for his works of fiction and non-fiction. He is famous for his series of fantasy novels, including "The Chronicles of Narnia," which have captivated readers of all ages. In addition to his fiction, Lewis also wrote thought-provoking essays and books on various topics, such as Christianity, ethics, and the nature of humanity. "The Abolition of Man" is one of his most influential non-fiction works, in which he explores the consequences of a society that rejects universal moral values. Lewis's insightful and eloquent writing continues to inspire and challenge readers around the world.

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    The Abolition of Man FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Abolition of Man?

    The main message of The Abolition of Man is a critique of subjectivism and the consequences of abandoning traditional values.

    How long does it take to read The Abolition of Man?

    The reading time for The Abolition of Man varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Abolition of Man a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Abolition of Man is worth reading as it offers thought-provoking insights into the nature of morality and education.

    Who is the author of The Abolition of Man?

    The author of The Abolition of Man is C.S. Lewis.

    What to read after The Abolition of Man?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Abolition of Man, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
    • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
    • The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
    • On Being by Peter Atkins
    • The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton
    • Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson
    • Choose Yourself by James Altucher
    • Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
    • Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
    • The Power of No by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher