Human Behavior - A View From C.S. Lewis

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Dr. Purushothaman
October 7, 2013

In C.S. Lewis' book "The Abolition of Man" he attempts to decipher why humans act the way they do, and what will happen if they continue in this process. He begins with mans appeal to esthetics and whether or not humans can describe beauty. Lewis uses many examples as he moves further into his book, and he also uses different characters to represent frames of thought, such as "the innovator" or "the conditioner." These characters pose as the opponents of Lewis' views. Understanding the doctrine of the Tao is crucial if one is to dig further into Lewis' book, once the ancient Tao is understood the reader can begin to comprehend Lewis' answers to the questions posed by "the innovator" and "the conditioner."

Lewis states the doctrine of the Tao as such " It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true and that others are really false, to the kind of things that the universe is and the kinds of things that we are." That is to say that there are certain areas of life that have concrete value, either good or bad. Many people in today's society believe that there are no objective truths, and that each person should be able to do what they feel is right for them. This is going directly against the Tao, and Lewis believes that the Tao is crucial for human living.

He begins with the example of two men commenting on a waterfall, however they were not actually speaking about the physical aspect of the waterfall, rather they are commenting on how the waterfall made them feel, this is very important for Lewis' argument, as it leads into another example. If a Roman father told his son that it would be sweet to die for his country, he is portraying his emotion of what dieing for his country would mean to him. Lewis' point is that if people reject the Tao they must either count all impulses as equally irrational or, for some reason other than logic, encourage some impulses over others. If men reject the Tao then they will have nothing to teach the next generation, unless they also reject logic and push their own agendas for personal gain.

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