SUMMARY: In this first chapter of The Abolition of Man, Lewis rails not only against propaganda found in a typical classroom text-book, but the dystopian-like approach many period-centrist professors adopted during the time.
These professors appealed to rational-stoicism at the cost of those things in the ‘gut’ of man; courage, devotion, commitment are all at risk. Lewis states there are officers, the ‘Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment liaison officers’ that govern the traffic between CM (cerebral man) and VM (visceral man). Lewis affirms VM must always be obedient to CM, and rightly so, however Lewis also maintains carefully dissecting one from the other produces an abomination; the chest-less man. “It is an outrage that these men be spoken of as ‘Intellectuals’.”.
OPINION: I am always challenged by the beauty of Lewis’ prose, although a bit unwieldy with regard to ‘twitter-update brevity’ we find in recent times communique, I find myself re-reading whole passages. I must be continually watchful over my attentiveness, not because Lewis’ doesn’t write well, but rather the thin-ness of my own discipline.
I believe that Lewis (as in many of his other works) is arguing the recognition of emotion in that, ‘truths‘ cannot be found without this softer element of our humanity. It is a part of us, it was given purposeful, not as an afterthought.
It is my opinion Lewis’ other works such as The Problem with Pain, A Grief Observed, where he counterpoints the culturally inspired Victorian Stoicism, bolsters support for this text and in The Weight of Glory – and Other Addresses he states emphatically, “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.”. While surely not advocating an idea of limited hedonism, Lewis is keenly aware of the importance of passion.
TAKEAWAY: “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
NEXT REFLECTION: The Abolition of Man; “The Way”