Quick Quotes: 10 Quotes from “The Abolition of Man” by C.S. Lewis


Q-train-logoEvery Friday, I plan to share select quotes from a book I am either currently reading or have previously read. Few things have impacted my faith and life as much as reading has. This will be just one way I promote books and reading. These articles will be for the dedicated reader who loves to gain insight from as many books as possible. They will also be for the Christian looking for new books to read. I am always on the lookout for new books to read. Hopefully some things I share will lead you to pick up a new book. Finally, these articles will be for those of you too busy to read. Hopefully these quick quotes will provide you with easy access to books you would otherwise not have time to read.

I’m beginning “Quick Quotes” with a look at one of my favorite authors and one of his most profound works. The Abolition of Man is a collection of essays from C.S. Lewis, and is arguably one of his most contemplative works. It has been ranked as one of the most important books of the 20th century. With Lewis’s typical conversational and meditational style, he approaches the reality of objective truth and how it plays out in our world.

Here are ten important quotes from The Abolition of Man:81aKy2m+SHL

1. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.

2. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. 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.

3. All the values which he uses in attacking the Tao [Lewis’s word for objective truth], and even claims to be substituting for it, are themselves derived from the Tao.

4. An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy.

5. Outside the Tao there is no ground for criticizing either the Tao or anything else.

6. What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.

7. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

8. There are progressions in which the last step is sui generis—incommensurable with the others—and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. To reduce the Tao to a mere natural product is a step of that kind.

9. You cannot go on explaining away for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on seeing through things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque.

10. It is no use trying to see through first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To see through all things is the same as not to see.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

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