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.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    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.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Abolition of Man about?

    The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis is a thought-provoking exploration of the dangers of subjective moral relativism. Lewis argues that without a universal and objective standard of values, society risks losing its humanity and descending into tyranny. This concise yet profound book encourages readers to reflect on the importance of objective moral values and the consequences of their rejection.

    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 author and scholar, best known for his works in the realms of theology, fantasy, and fiction. He was a professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, and a member of the Inklings, a literary group that included J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis's main achievements include his series of fantasy novels, "The Chronicles of Narnia," as well as his philosophical work, "The Abolition of Man." His writing continues to captivate readers with its insightful exploration of faith, morality, and the power of imagination.

    Categories with The Abolition of Man

    Book summaries like The Abolition of Man

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial