“The Abolition of Man” by C. S. Lewis

A thought-provoking, occasionally humorous essay in defense of traditional values and the emotions associated with them, against nihilism and reductionism.

The danger of reductionism, Lewis cautioned, is that, like the basilisk who kills every living thing it sees, reductionist approach tends to break things down to measurable quantities, and in the process lose sight of quality and value. It’s dissecting the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.

Lewis also made an interesting argument that’s new to me. He stated that man’s power over Nature is “a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument”. The discovery of nuclear power and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may be an extreme example. “And all long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones. … Each generation exercises power over its successors: and each, in so far as it modifies the environment bequeathed to it and rebels against tradition, resists and limits the power of its predecessors.”


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