The Abolition of Man as Wake Up Call
There are three very important ideas that C. S. Lewis explicates in his book, The Abolition of Man. The first essay focuses on moral subjectivism, the second on the Tao, and the third on the consequences of living in a morally relativist society. As a dramatic conclusion to these essays, Lewis asserts that if we do not carefully educate ourselves and accept the authority of the Tao we may become heartless men and women, incapable of governing a society of justice and values.
In the first essay, Lewis communicates his philosophy that education plays an important part in the development of ethical values. In addition to this statement, Lewis asserts that children's readers, guised as harmless texts, can convey hidden messages that have potential to harm a child's developing worldview. Much of the first essay is focused on a schoolbook Lewis called "The Green Book". Although Lewis chose a specific model for "The Green Book", it could easily be any one of a whole generation of schoolbooks. Unfortunately, instead of teaching grammar and good writing as these books profess to do, students learn moral relativism. Lewis, who supports the idea of a Tao, natural law, in the next chapter, believes that youth educated by moral relativism are actually being denied the education needed to appreciate the philosophical claim that certain objects and ideas should hold on them as human beings. Lewis believes that a good education should link their experiences to the proper emotion. By reinforcing emotional reactions to beautiful objects, values could be ingrained in their minds. By having a system of belief in their consciousness, they were given a vaccination against savagery. Their hearts knew right from wrong and because their hearts were strong and well developed, they could overcome their instincts and rationalized desires. However, a generation educated by "The Green Book" would know only the dangerous freedom of subjectivism. Without the necessary education to develop the heart of man and left with no form of resistance, they would find their instincts controlling their behavior. Lewis summed up this argument by saying "the practical result of education in the spirit of The Green Book must be the destruction of the society which accepts it." Lewis ascertained that educating men this way and expecting virtue was like castrating horses and expecting offspring.
In the second essay of Abolition of Man, entitled "The Way," Lewis expounds upon the system of Tao he introduced in the first chapter. This essay sets out to prove that there is such a thing as objective moral law; he refers to this moral law as the Tao. Lewis defines the Tao as the underlying basic reality in the world, which no amount of denial can make disappear. In the...