As with many of Lewis' Christian books, this one began as a series of lectures. There were three of them, and they converted nicely to three brief essays concerning the nature of morality, universal truth, and their relation to education.
The replacement of objective standards with subjective feelings was already widespread in Lewis' day, and this slim volume was a reaction against that trend. He cautions against the use of science to dismantle moral codes; defends absolute truth; and shows carefully how fundamental ethical behaviours are supported by nearly every culture around the globe.
It should come as no surprise to those familiar with books like Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters that this one is witty, compassionate, and intellectually compelling, but Lewis seems to be at the top of his form here. His normal elegance of expression becomes downright poetic.
Lewis concludes with a bleak prediction of the future. If things continue as they are, eventually everyone will be ruled by an elite cadre who use psychology and subjective reason to form policies, rather than the natural law innate within all humans. This sad situation will result in the end of humanity as we know it, the abolition of man, as it were. Frighteningly, we may already be there.
A short appendix offers comparative views of moral systems around the world, highlighting their similarities (including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Taoist codes of ethics). As important today as it was 70 years ago, The Abolition of Man stands as a clear warning to a civilization slowly immersing itself in the meaningless moral relativism of postmodern thought.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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