The Introspective Argument

The introspective argument

Photo and VIDEO by InspiringPhilosophy– This is a simple philosophical argument for God’s existence and idealism. Quantum physics has shown us a lot about reality, but the same conclusion can be seen in simple logical deduction, which we call the introspective argument. This was co-written by Johanan Raatz.

The Introspective Argument

Premise 1: The Mind Exists
Premise 2: The properties of the mind are not that which matter can have
Conclusion: Mind is not reducible to matter.
Premise 3: Substance dualism is false.

These 3 premises lead us to a conclusion: If the mind exists, it cannot be reduced to matter, and if substance dualism is false, than no other substance exists. Thus, we conclude:
CONCLUSION: All is mind. The universe is a mental construct.
Without surprise to idealists, this is what the experimental results of quantum mechanics tells us. Matter is not fundamental in and of itself, but cannot exist prior to measurement (Which Inspiring Philosophy points out in his last 2 videos on his youtube channel). And the properties that matter have no independent existence. , beyond how one chooses to measure things.

Thus the argument is not just a priori logical possibility, or just an interesting thought, but, in fact predicts the  philosophical implications of quantum mechanics. The evidence suggests that the universe is fundamentally mental.

„It processes and stores information at the microscopic level in everything that we see around us. And, if the universe is processing information, then it must be thinking and it must be alive.” This would come as no surprise to the pioneers of quantum theory. Max Planck said, ‘There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force… we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” From „Das Wesen der Materie” [The Nature of Matter] , speech at Florence, Italy (1944).

Sir Rudolf Peierls said, „[T]he moment at which you can throw away one possibility and keep only the other is when you finally become conscious of the fact that the experiment has given one result.. You see, the quantum mechanical description is in terms of knowledge, and knowledge requires someone who knows.” The Ghost in the Atom Page 74-74.

Solipsism

  1. Premise 1: If solipsism is conceivable, then a possible world could exist such that only the mind exists.
  2. Premise 2: Solipsism is conceivable. (Therefore, a possible world exists with only a mind in it).
  3. Premise 3: Possible worlds cannot only consist of properties and processes, but must also include entities.
  4. Premise 4: There is no difference between the mind existing in a solipsist world and the actual world.

This stems from Leibniz’s law of Indiscernability of Identicals: If there are any two things and they are identical to each other, then for what is true of one it will be true of the other.
(x) (y) [(x=y) – P (Px) – (Py)]

Therefor the CONCLUSION is: The mind cannot be a property or a process, but rather must be an entity.

So now, the CONCLUSION for The Introspective Argument 

Premise 1: The Mind Exists
Premise 2: The properties of the mind are not that which matter can have
Conclusion: Mind is not reducible to matter.
Premise 3: Substance dualism is false.

CONCLUSION: All is mind.

Richard Conn Henry and Stephen R. Palmquist point out that… a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism. (http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

One doesn’t have to jump to the extreme idealist view that only your mind exists. Instead, hold to the view that the mental world creates the construct of the physical world. Many philosophers have also noted that we are not in control of the way the world behaves, and therefore, it is not reasonable to assume it is a creation of your own mind.

Bu if all is mind, then we have to deduce that it is dependent on a much larger mind, which is why theism is the only rational alternative to solipsism. Although this position may be rejected by many as unacceptable, and hold to the notion of a mind independent reality, the conclusion still follows. In fact, we cannot even conceive of a mind independent reality without a mind. As Max Planck said, „I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” The Observer (25 January 1931).

So, this argument is not just a clever thought, but in fact predicts the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics. But, what about those that still reject these philosophical implications of quantum theory? As Eaun Squires said, „It is probably fair to say that most members of the physics community would reject [these] ideas… [However], their reasons would be based more on prejudice than on sound argument, and the proportion of those who reject it would be much smaller if we considered only those who had actually thought carefully about the problems of quantum theory.” Eaun Squires in  Conscious Mind in the Physics World (Page 192)

„I think that modern physics has definitely decided in favor of Plato. In fact, the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.” Werner Heisenberg.

See ‘Inspiring Philosophy’s’ other 2 video on this subject here:

  1. Digital Physics – Argument for God’s existence
  2. Cosmic Conscious – Argument for Gods existence

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Ravi Zacharias – Can Man Live without God? + some quotes

Read more quotes and/or buy the books here- http://www.goodreads.com/

‘Can Man Live Without God?’

  1. “It is easier to hide behind philosophical arguments, heavily footnoted for effect, than it is to admit our hurts, our confusions, our loves, and our passions in the marketplace of life’s heartfelt transactions.”
  2. “I am absolutely convinced that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain; meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure. And that is why we find ourselves emptied of meaning with our pantries still full.”
  3. “Truth has been relegated to subjectivity; beauty has been subjugated to the beholder; and as millions are idiotized night after night, a global commune has been constructed with the arts enjoying a totalitarian rule.”
  4. “For many in our high-paced world, despair is not a moment; it is a way of life.”
  5. “The loss of something that is never thought of, felt, or sought for when lost is not a loss at all.”

Description for the book (Amazon):

In this brilliant and compelling defense of the Christian faith, Ravi Zacharias shows how affirming the reality of God’s existence matters urgently in our everyday lives. According to Zacharias, how you answer the questions of God’s existence will impact your relationship with others, your commitment to integrity, your attitude toward morality, and your perception of truth.

VIDEO by jasonofthel33t

Recapture the Wonder

  • “In the 1950s kids lost their innocence. They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term –the generation gap.
  • In the 1960s, kids lost their authority. It was a decade of protest–church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.
  • In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self. Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion….It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.
  • In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.
  • In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.
  • In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.”
  • “Dragoste gratuită nu există; dragostea este expresia cea mai costisitoare din lume. Dar lucrul minunat este că prețul ei a fost plătit deja.”
  • “Of all the religions in the world, there is none with the wealth of music that the Christian faith offers.”
  • “The world is larger and more beautiful than my little struggle.”
Description for the book (Amazon):
Zacharias invites readers to break free from the weariness and cynicism of life to enjoy God’s amazing promise of childlike joy.

Dallas Willard – The Nature and Necessity of Worldviews at UCLA

The Veritas Forum at University of California at Los Angeles. Dallas Willard:

  • Truth is in trouble, not just religious or moral, but TRUTH!
  • Truth does not accommodate belief; belief has to accommodate truth.
  • No one has ever made a proposition true simply by believing it.
  • Here’s a question of fact or truth and it has incredible bearings on how we approach our life: Am I, fundamentally, a material object that exists or gets organized by DNA and exists for a little while and then I stop existing? Or, am I an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s Universe?
  • I always tell my students: The burden of proof is always mine because I am the one who wants to know.

The power of the world view. Dallas Willard talks about what it is and how it works in context. Notes:

Nature and Necessity of World View

  • Your „world view” consists of assumptions about the realities and values that govern you and the world in which you live.
  • It is a biological reality, built into your usual actions and responses.

Knowledge

Our ability to represent things as they are, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience
This is what our universities are devoted to.
But knowledge requires TRUTH.

Truth

A thought or statement is true if what it is about is as that thought or statement represents it.

„An institution of higher education is, by definition, dedicated to the search for truth and its dissemination”. Harvard had a little problem with this and they changed their shield several times. Primarily they were troubled about the issue of the unity of truth and that is: Does truth include the religious, the moral and the other dimensions of truth? Gradually through the years there has been a drift in university affairs that relegates truth to just the natural world. And so our ability to represent God, personal character of the human beings, spiritual side, all of that is eliminated from knowledge. But, truth itself does not do that.

Truth does not accommodate belief; belief has to accommodate truth. No one has ever made a proposition true simply by believing it. Now, maybe their belief in it caused them to act and to bring something about, that made the proposition true. But, merely believing doesn’t make propositions true. A group of people believing it doesn’t help get up a movement. It won’t make it true.

The bitterness of truth is its total indifference to human will and desire together with the fact that human desire and will is set on reshaping reality and therefore truth to suit itself. This is the fundamental conflict in human life. It is the conflict between desire and will and truth. And that conflict affects everything we do, including what we do on the university campus.

The Main World view questions

When it comes to these world view questions the same questions are there. The question: How do we know the truth? still applies to those. Here’s a question of fact or truth and it has incredible bearings on how we approach our life: Am I, fundamentally, a material object that exists or gets organized by DNA and exists for a little while and then I stop existing? Or, am I an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s Universe? Wow, what a difference. See?

The Main World View Questions:
*The nature of reality
-What counts as knowledge of reality?
*Who is really well-off?
-Blessedness
-The Good Life
*Who is a „really good” person? (one of the deepest questions)

Jesus and his tradition responds to each of these questions… as do Plato, Buddha, Freud, etc. In the university setting the dominating world view is expressed through what is accepted as research and what counts as possible knowledge. You (university students) are in a system that teaches a world view without responsibly defending it.

How is a world view taught?

  • Mainly by body language, facial expressions, tones of voice and inflections, „looks”, off hand remarks about people and events
  • By what is permissible
  • By example – how we treat people (in class, out of class, colleagues)
  • By who gets rewarded or punished in various ways in the academic or other context
  • Rarely (almost never) by explicit statement. Explicit statement is only used to reinforce what is taught indirectly as previously indicated.

What we have to do with is a kind of orthodoxy, a secular orthodoxy. That is a sociological reality, not a rationally supported outlook. I am, more or less, calling attention to this and saying: Look, this is something we have to deal with. UCLA answers these questions in a pretty straightforward way but, they don’t stand on the street corner and argue for it.

How does the University answer the Four Great Questions?

  • Reality is the natural, sense-perceptible world
  • The spiritual is not real and/or not knowable – That’s been developing for a long period of time in our academic culture and although there’s an increase in talk about spirituality, when any serious moral issue arises it will be treated as not for something which will be treated as a subject for knowledge and that’s because it falls in a non physical realm. You cannot make any sense or morality if you stick to your physics. Same thing is true about logic. Logical implication is not something in the physical world. That doesn’t mean it’s not real. But, one of the funny things in philosophy is you watch people/students who go to study logic and they want to know what it’s all about, what are those funny symbols on the board and they very quickly learn and are socialized that you do not ask that question because if you ask that question, you’re too stupid to understand the answer. Logic, like morality is not a part of the physical world. Now that doesn’t mean it’s not real, it doesn’t mean we don’t know it. It means that under the prevailing outlook, we can’t come to grips with it.
  • You are your body
  • Well being is physical/social well-being: success, money, health

These „Answers” are the Assumptions of what we do and do not do

We wouldn’t try to defend them except in some philosophical context, possibly. But they are the assumptions that we live by and we set up our curriculum in those ways and we judge the qualification of people to teach and not to teach, to publish or not to publish, to get grants and not get grants. That’s where the world-view takes hold.

  • …and HOW we do (or do not do) it
  • They are the assumptions of the training, professionalization, socialization of our faculties.
  • They are not the outcome of rational research. No one has DISCOVERED them, found them to be true.
  • They are not knowledge

How does Jesus answer these four questions?

  • Reality is God and his activities, including the natural world (physical, social)
  • The person is well-off who has a life deriving from God and his „kingdom”
  • The good person is the person pervaded with God’s kind of love: AGAPE love
  • You become a good person by becoming an apprentice of Jesus Christ

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I want to stress this fact: A world view, a basically unified world view that is taught by inflection, action, model. You get crosswise of that you will soon find out that you’re not acceptable. It is very powerful, it is a sociological reality.

There is another world view, it is the one that founded the universities, and, intact dominated the universities until about 75 years ago. That change has come very recently. It is a part of a socialization process that is going on in history, a necessary one, in many respects, in which the university had to divorce itself from the implicit institutions of religion and society. (Recommends the book: The making of the modern university). It wasn’t that suddenly, someone found out that Jesus was wrong. Nobody found that out. It was not discovered, it was negotiated over a period of time in which people decided that it would be that way, and was able to set the tone against it. That’s what happened.

Where we now stand

  • The answers of Jesus constituted the world view of the universities well into the 20th century.
  • We have been locked into a sociological, not an intellectual reaction. We like to think of ourselves as engaged in a rational enterprise in the universities and we are apt therefore simply not to miss and understand the sociological realities that determine the world view that is actually taught.
  • See Julie Reuben, The Making of a Modern University (Book)
  • That goes along with the disappearance of logic from the campus. There’s almost no university or college in the world today that requires a course in simple logic, that is a part of the degree program. Your argument is now judged by your conclusion, not your conclusion by your argument.
  • The answers of Jesus have not been shown false and the now prevailing answers true. Until you recover the sense of logic you can never take that issue up.

Where to now?

  • Recognize that our world view assumptions are what govern life
  • Assume the „burden of proof”. Be a rational „skeptic”. I always tell my students: The burden of proof is always mine because I am the one who wants to know. I’m not in this discussion to put you back on your heels. I’m here to determine the truth and the burden of proof is mine. I’m not trying to win an argument. I think that’s one of the most important things that’s especially for Christians to understand. They’re not here trying to „duck and dodge”. If you can find abetter way than what is Jesus Christ’s offers, He would be the first person to tell you to take it and f you don’t believe that about Him, you can’t be His disciple because you can’t trust Him.
  • Thoroughly consider the teachings of the Bible and the record of Jesus’ people on the main world view issues.
  • Put His teachings to the test of life.
  • Do the same for the world view teachings of the current intellectual.
  • Then honestly compare. Don’t just rest in your „intellectually respectable” prejudices.

Question and answer session begins at the 35th minute.

  1. Do you consider Intelligent Design and Creationism a Science? What is and isn’t science shouldn’t be our fundamental question… Science, for me, is just a fancy word for knowledge… To me the fundamental question is, for any of those ideas is: Are they reasonable? Do they have strong support in the evidence? Do they fit together with a coherent world view?
  2. An atheist states: You use the words :knowledge of God”. I would argue that nobody can read or know the Bible or the Koran really well and know the customs and prayers really well and be sincere in their heart that it’s true, but how can one know God if one, can’t know at the same time, that miracles don’t exist? Logically, those are independent issues. You had many people who had standard arguments for the existence of God who had rejected miracles. It depends on whether you’re going to be a deist or a full blown theist. Christian theists tend to depend upon knowledge of miracles for their knowledge of God, at least partly.
  3. Dr. Willard, you had mentioned during the outlining of the secularization of the university that it was necessarily so, and possibly indicating that it was a good thing. How will I, as a person who does research in the sciences and yet, also have faith in Christ, integrate that and is it wrong to do that? And if the segregation of faith and academy is a good thing? In the period right after World War II, colleges and universities were thought not to be training people well for the future of the country. They were concerned particularly about technology, about science, but they were also concerned about international relations and things like that. There was a lot of criticism and what they experienced was this: Nearly all of the colleges and universities were closely aligned with denominations and what they found was that the denominational distinctives were not open to inquiry. That is why there had to be an opening up between institutional religion and inquiry. That is a good thing because the truth claims of religion should be open to scrutiny as any other field. Historically, religion has not been and that’s why there had to be some distance. Let’s open it now. That is what I am complaining about now on the secular side, we don’t have it (inquiry) because the secular side has trained itself to say that religion is not open to inquiry. That’s the change that had to be made.
  4. What steps do you think can be taken to encourage people to have open forums and do you see the university going in a positive direction or a negative direction? In philosophy, things have gotten considerably better in my lifetime.

Ravi Zacharias – What does a person of influence look like

RaviDaniel, as he stood before Nebuchadnezzar and the nation of Babylon, as the challenge was given to them to be remolded and reshaped. Take a notice of what happened. These men were in exile, and all of a sudden, the highest man in the land is asking for the best of these young men to be selected: strong in their countenance, impressive in their personality, and what was it that was going to take place? They were to be reprogrammed and a new set of values planted within them. They were to be taught the philosophy, the literature, and the language of the babylonians. Philosophy- the way they reason, literature through the back door of the imagination, and the entire change of culture could begin, once that language was handed to them. Philosophy, literature and language to help these men rethink all that there was to be challenging them within this new culture, so that a new set of values would be born into them, and then transferred through them to the next generation.

Daniel 1:8-10; 17

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. 18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. 21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

  • We move towards the direction of our comfort. We do. But the important thing is how God reminds us never to get so comfortable with comforts, that it is the comfort principle that ends up driving all that you do. Here is a man who trained his appetite, training his longings, training his hunger. And the marvelous thing is this: how he reminded himself again, and again, that he did not want to get spoiled by all that the king would afford to him and give to him. Instead, he disciplined himself and backed away from even that which could have been alright for him to enjoy, but he resisted it for a greater and a higher call.

(1) Daniel drew his line of resistance by training his hunger & appetite

I wanna talk to you a little bit about training your hunger. The truth of the matter is that we make small decisions in the early days of our lives that often can put some deep desired within us that are not good for the long run. Can we put paper cuts to our soul, early in life (which is all it takes for someone to contract a termini virus from someone else), can we entertain a habit, can we begin a relationship, can we make a choice, could it be one evening that lacerates you in such a way, that puts a different kind of hunger into you, and the destruction process can set in? To you, young men especially I want to give you this challenge. There are people out there, with businesses, and productions, and ideas, whose soul purpose is to cut you in your soul, and get you hooked and reprogrammed so that you will then have hungers and passions and desires that no one human being on the face of the earth can ever fulfill. All they end up doing is framing your mind and creating within you a kind of imagination that is ultimately insatiable- never, ever satisfying. In this day of mass communicating with computers, we’re living with a great deal of danger  for our young people. I remember talking about this at a seminary in midwestern Canada, I just mentioned this whole scourge of the pornographic empire, and at the end, when the invitation for prayer was given, every aisle was filled with kneeling men, tears running down their faces, wanting to retrain their hungers.

  • My daughter, Naomi, works in the rescue of trafficked women and children from the prostitution industry. She’s been pleasing for me to write a book with her on pornography. She said, „Dad, if I could only tell you the devastation this thing wreaks. And I have fought it off, because I hate to even get into the research of something like this. Draw the line in the right places, so that you can train your hungers. (17:00)

(2) Daniel’s  line of dependance on God for  wisdom 

But he also drew his line of dependence. What is dependence? To go beyond the reading, to go beyond the learning- to seek wisdom. Nebuchadnezzar did an extraordinary thing dream and it was a culture in which dreams meant an awful lot. And this repeated dream of a statue with a head and shoulders of gold, the breastplate of silver, the girth made of bronze, the legs made of iron and the feet made of a mixture of iron and clay. And a stone, cut out of no man’s hand smashes that statue. And he wants to know what this means. So the magicians and the enchanters asked Nebuchadnezzar of his dream, but he said, „You tell me the dream if you’re that capable, and then you interpret it.”  So, Daniel comes on the scene and God reveals the dream to him. Daniel goes to Nebuchadnezzar and tells him, „That which I am about to tell you has nothing to do with my learning, or my education. It has nothing to do with my intellect. It has everything to do with God’s wisdom. And now I will unfold to you your dream.”You can only learn so much from books and education. Ultimately, that which will carry you through will be the wisdom of God in the toughest situations of life.

The line of dependence.  Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection, at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of  life.

(3) Daniel’s line of confidence

His line of resistance, his line of dependence, his line of confidence. Daniel knew that ultimately  the truth would triumph and 3 monarchs in a row crossed over to his side, he never crossed over to theirs. That’s remarkable. That’s a reflection of a soul that God intends for you and me: To draw the line in the right places, to be shaped for his purpose, to be able to stand before the toughest adversaries and to see that the difference will ultimately count.

(VIDEO 30 min)

Afterlife – Is this all there is? (Inspiring Philosophy)

photo http://www.peacechurch.org

Inspiring Philosophy: Why is it that when we look around us we constantly ask, „Is this all there is?” If this it it, and all that there ever has been, why bother even asking the question? It should be instinctively self evident for us. But, for some reason it isn’t. To say that this life is all there is is denying the fundamental question in us all, that never ceases to go away: Is there more to life than just this world? 

„Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.” C.S. Lewis

Theistic Thinker: The assumption here seems to be that size determines value. But, this seems to be grossly false. We don’t think that a grain of sand on a big beach is insignificant to the beach as a whole, because of its miniscule size, but rather, because the grain of sand does not contain any special potentiality that will make a difference to the beach as a whole.

The Cartesian Theist: Relative size does not determine value. If someone told you how incredibly tiny your newborn baby was compared to our entire galaxy, and that on this basis, he or she is insignificant, and therefore of no value, you would think that they were absolutely crazy. And, you would be right to think that way. And, there is no good reason to think that size determines value, and we know it most when we become parents for the first time, when we stare at that tiny little life which has just come into the world. It is for this reason, we should reject the suggestion that a human being, or humanity as a whole is analogous to a grain of sand.

Theistic Thinker: Now, what about the universe as a whole? Take the whole observable universe, which contains billions of galaxies, receding away from us in all directions, as a result of cosmic expansion. Do we have any potentiality that makes a difference for the universe? Yes, I think so. Not only do we, or any other similar species possess the structure to alter the potentiality of the universe for our future. But, arguably, of much more importance, we also bring an element missing in the universe. We bring in concepts such as love and compassion. The universe is not happy, and it is not sad. It is not even emotionally neutral. It is we, as human beings that introduce these concepts into the universe. This is indeed significant, in my opinion.

The Dutch Philosopher: It seems this life offers us opportunities that we will not be able to have in heaven. For example, the ability to be brave- to face one’s fears and overcome them. To express compassion- it can only be done if there is sorrow. But, most importantly, this life gives us the opportunity to uncoerced, choose God to be our Father, Savior, Teacher, and Mentor or to reject Him.

The Cartesian Theist: I think some atheists created the greatest ever psychological crutch, the idea that death is the end, the idea that there is no one other than myself, whom I am accountable to. The idea that I will not be judged. The idea that no one has the right to judge the way I live my life, other than myself. Must be some huge comfort- far from diminishing the idea of living your life well in this life, the idea of a judgment at the end of this life puts the greatest possible motivation on living well in the here and now. But, not out of fear and punishment, so much as a way of showing our appreciation to the Creator for all that He has given us. And, that every breath we take is thanks to Him.

Inspiring Philosophy: Some might say, „Knowing this life is all there is, really makes me want to do something good with it. But, I have to ask: Why? Why care about anything?” You know, in 70-80 years it’s all just going to end. Nothing you’ve done will matter at that point. No one can punish you for the wrongs you’re committed, no one can congratulate you for the good you’ve done. You can live a life of complete selfishness, with no other intention than to please yourself. And, once you die, it’s all over. So, if this life is all there is, why live a life of helping others, where in the end, everyone you’ve helped just passes away.

So let’s say that you can become a very influential person. The effects you had on the world will be remembered in 100 years. After 1000 years, the history books might still mention you. But after years, and years, no one will remember. So, why care, if this life is all there is? Everything you do will end up in the grave as well.

The Dutch Philosopher: In contrast to the non believer, who lives life on a sensual level, pleasing their desires and finds no satisfaction, because, eventually everything gets boring. Or, the nonbeliever that lives life on an ethical level, trying to do the good, but continues to fail. The christian believer that lives life on the God centered level, receives a personal relationship with their Creator, forgiveness of sin, and finds ultimate purpose that starts now. (5:00)

Published on Feb 22, 2013 InspiringPhilosophy

This is a Christian response to ‘Afterlife’ by „TheThinkingAtheist”. He refuses to accept this as a response video so far. The idea for this response video is owed to TheCartesianTheist. A link his channel and the channels of everyone involved are linked below:

The CartesianTheist:
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheCartes…

TheisticThinker:
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheisticT…

The DutchPhilosopher:
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheDutchP…

C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 3

Read Chapter 1 Men Without Chests here

Read Chapter 2 The Way here

Read the Appendix here

Chapter 3

The Abolition of Man

It came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said and however he flattered, when he got me home to his house, he would sell me for a slave.

—John Bunyan

`Man’s conquest of Nature’ is an expression often used to describe the progress of applied science. `Man has Nature whacked,’ said someone to a friend of mine not long ago. In their context the words had a certain tragic beauty, for the speaker was dying of tuberculosis. `No matter’ he said, `I know I’m one of the casualties. Of course there are casualties on the winning as well as on the losing side. But that doesn’t alter the fact that it is winning.’ I have chosen this story as my point of departure in order to make it clear that I do not wish to disparage all that is really beneficial in the process described as `Man’s conquest’, much less all the real devotion and self-sacrifice that has gone to make it possible. But having done so I must proceed to analyse this conception a little more closely. In what sense is Man the possessor of increasing power over Nature?

Let us consider three typical examples: the aeroplane, the wireless, and the contraceptive. In a civilized community, in peace-time, anyone who can pay for them may use these things. But it cannot strictly be said that when he does so he is exercising his own proper or individual power over Nature. If I pay you to carry me, I am not therefore myself a strong man. Any or all of the three things I have mentioned can be withheld from some men by other men—by those who sell, or those who allow the sale, or those who own the sources of production, or those who make the goods. What we call Man’s power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by. Again, as regards the powers manifested in the aeroplane or the wireless, Man is as much the patient or subject as the possessor, since he is the target both for bombs and for propaganda. And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, 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.

It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science has given them, But that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called `Man’s power over Nature’ must always and essentially be. No doubt, the picture could be modified by public ownership of raw materials and factories and public control of scientific research. But unless we have a world state this will still mean the power of one nation over others. And even within the world state or the nation it will mean (in principle) the power of majorities over minorities, and (in the concrete) of a government over the people. And all long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones.

The latter point is not always sufficiently emphasized, because those who write on social matters have not yet learned to imitate the physicists by always including Time among the dimensions. In order to understand fully what Man’s power over Nature, and therefore the power of some men over other men, really means, we must picture the race extended in time from the date of its emergence to that of its extinction. 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. This modifies the picture which is sometimes painted of a progressive emancipation from tradition and a progressive control of natural processes resulting in a continual increase of human power. In reality, of course, if any one age really attains, by eugenics and scientific education, the power to make its descendants what it pleases, all men who live after it are the patients of that power. They are weaker, not stronger: for though we may have put wonderful machines in their hands we have pre-ordained how they are to use them. And if, as is almost certain, the age which had thus attained maximum power over posterity were also the age most emancipated from tradition, it would be engaged in reducing the power of its predecessors almost as drastically as that of its successors. And we must also remember that, quite apart from this, the later a generation comes—the nearer it lives to that date at which the species becomes extinct—the less power it will have in the forward direction, because its subjects will be so few. There is therefore no question of a power vested in the race as a whole steadily growing as long as the race survives. The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future.

The real picture is that of one dominant age—let us suppose the hundredth century A.D.—which resists all previous ages most successfully and dominates all subsequent ages most irresistibly, and thus is the real master of the human species. But then within this master generation (itself an infinitesimal minority of the species) the power will be exercised by a minority smaller still. Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. Each advance leaves him weaker as well aas stronger. In every victory, besides being the general who triumphs, he is also the prisoner who follows the triumphal car.

I am not yet considering whether the total result of such ambivalent victories is a good thing or a bad. I am only making clear what Man’s conquest of Nature really means and especially that final stage in the conquest, which, perhaps, is not far off. The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man. The battle will then be won. We shall have `taken the thread of life out of the hand of Clotho’ and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?

Plato

For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please. In all ages, no doubt, nurture and instruction have, in some sense, attempted to exercise this power. But the situation to which we must look forward will be novel in two respects. In the first place, the power will be enormously increased. Hitherto the plans of educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted and indeed, when we read them—how Plato would have every infant „a bastard nursed in a bureau”, and Elyot would have the boy see no men before the age of seven and, after that, no women,1 and how Locke wants children to have leaky shoes and no turn for poetry2—we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses. But the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.

The second difference is even more important. In the older systems both the kind of man the teachers wished to produce and their motives for producing him were prescribed by the Tao—a norm to which the teachers themselves were subject and from which they claimed no liberty to depart. They did not cut men to some pattern they had chosen. They handed on what they had received: they initiated the young neophyte into the mystery of humanity which over-arched him and them alike. It was but old birds teaching young birds to fly. This will be changed. Values are now mere natural phenomena. Judgements of value are to be produced in the pupil as part of the conditioning. Whatever Tao there is will be the product, not the motive, of education. The conditioners have been emancipated from all that. It is one more part of Nature which they have conquered. The ultimate springs of human action are no longer, for them, something given. They have surrendered—like electricity: it is the function of the Conditioners to control, not to obey them. They know how to produce conscience and decide what kind of conscience they will produce. They themselves are outside, above. For we are assuming the last stage of Man’s struggle with Nature. The final victory has been won. Human nature has been conquered—and, of course, has conquered, in whatever sense those words may now bear.

The Conditioners, then, are to choose what kind of artificial Tao they will, for their own good reasons, produce in the Human race. They are the motivators, the creators of motives. But how are they going to be motivated themselves?

For a time, perhaps, by survivals, within their own minds, of the old `natural’ Tao. Thus at first they may look upon themselves as servants and guardians of humanity and conceive that they have a `duty’ to do it `good’. But it is only by confusion that they can remain in this state. They recognize the concept of duty as the result of certain processes which they can now control. Their victory has consisted precisely in emerging from the state in which they were acted upon by those processes to the state in which they use them as tools. One of the things they now have to decide is whether they will, or will not, so condition the rest of us that we can go on having the old idea of duty and the old reactions to it. How can duty help them to decide that? Duty itself is up for trial: it cannot also be the judge. And `good’ fares no better. They know quite well how to produce a dozen different conceptions of good in us. The question is which, if any, they should produce. No conception of good can help them to decide. It is absurd to fix on one of the things they are comparing and make it the standard of comparison.

To some it will appear that I am inventing a factitious difficulty for my Conditioners. Other, more simple-minded, critics may ask, `Why should you suppose they will be such bad men?’ But I am not supposing them to be bad men. They are, rather, not men (in the old sense) at all. They are, if you like, men who have sacrificed their own share in traditional humanity in order to devote themselves to the task of deciding what `Humanity’ shall henceforth mean. `Good’ and `bad’, applied to them, are words without content: for it is from them that the content of these words is henceforward to be derived. Nor is their difficulty factitious, „We might suppose that it was possible to say `After all, most of us want more or less the same things—food and drink and sexual intercourse, amusement, art, science, and the longest possible life for individuals and for the species. Let them simply say, This is what we happen to like, and go on to condition men in the way most likely to produce it. Where’s the trouble?’ But this will not answer. In the first place, it is false that we all really like the same things. But even if we did, what motive is to impel the Conditioners to scorn delights and live laborious days in order that we, and posterity, may have what we like? Their duty? But that is only the Tao, which they may decide to impose on us, but which cannot be valid for them. If they accept it, then they are no longer the makers of conscience but still its subjects, and their final conquest over Nature has not really happened. The preservation of the species? But why should the species be preserved? One of the questions before them is whether this feeling for posterity (they know well how it is produced) shall be continued or not. However far they go back, or down, they can find no ground to stand on. Every motive they try to act on becomes at once petitio. It is not that they are bad men. They are not men at all. Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artefacts. Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.

Yet the Conditioners will act. When I said just now that all motives fail them, I should have said all motives except one. All motives that claim any validity other than that of their felt emotional weight at a given moment have failed them. Everything except the sic volo, sic jubeo has been explained away. But what never claimed objectivity cannot be destroyed by subjectivism. The impulse to scratch when I itch or to pull to pieces when I am inquisitive is immune from the solvent which is fatal to my justice, or honour, or care for posterity. When all that says It is good’ has been debunked, what says 1 want’ remains. It cannot be exploded or `seen through’ because it never had any pretentions. The Conditioners, therefore, must come to be motivated simply by their own pleasure. I am not here speaking of the corrupting influence of power nor expressing the fear that under it our Conditioners will degenerate. The very words corrupt and degenerateimply a doctrine of value and are therefore meaningless in this context. My point is that those who stand outside all judgements of value cannot have any ground for preferring one of their own impulses to another except the emotional strength of that impulse.

We may legitimately hope that among the impulses which arise in minds thus emptied of all `rational’ or `spiritual’ motives, some will be benevolent. I am very doubtful myself whether the benevolent impulses, stripped of that preference and encouragement which the Tao teaches us to give them and left to their merely natural strength and frequency as psychological events, will have much influence. I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently. I am inclined to think that the Conditioners will hate the conditioned. Though regarding as an illusion the artificial conscience which they produce in us their subjects, they will yet perceive that it creates in us an illusion of meaning for our lives which compares favourably with the futility of their own: and they will envy us as eunuchs envy men. But I do not insist on this, for it is a mere conjecture. What is not conjecture is that our hope even of a `conditioned’ happiness rests on what is ordinarily called `chance’—the chance that benevolent impulses may on the whole predominate in our Conditioners. For without the judgement `Benevolence is good’—that is, without re-entering the Tao—they can have no ground for promoting or stabilizing these impulses rather than any others. By the logic of their position they must just take their impulses as they come, from chance. And Chance here means Nature. It is from heredity, digestion, the weather, and the association of ideas, that the motives of the Conditioners will spring. Their extreme rationalism, by `seeing through’ all `rational’ motives, leaves them creatures of wholly irrational behaviour. If you will not obey the Tao, or else commit suicide, obedience to impulse (and therefore, in the long run, to mere `nature’) is the only course left open.

At the moment, then, of Man’s victory over Nature, we find the whole human race subjected to some individual men, and those individuals subjected to that in themselves which is purely `natural’—to their irrational impulses. Nature, untrammelled by values, rules the Conditioners and, through them, all humanity. Man’s conquest of Nature turns out, in the moment of its consummation, to be Nature’s conquest of Man. Every victory we seemed to win has led us, step by step, to this conclusion. All Nature’s apparent reverses have been but tactical withdrawals. We thought we were beating her back when she was luring us on. What looked to us like hands held up in surrender was really the opening of arms to enfold us for ever. If the fully planned and conditioned world (with its Tao a mere product of the planning) comes into existence, Nature will be troubled no more by the restive species that rose in revolt against her so many millions of years ago, will be vexed no longer by its chatter of truth and mercy and beauty and happiness. Ferum victorem cepit: and if the eugenics are efficient enough there will be no second revolt, but all snug beneath the Conditioners, and the Conditioners beneath her, till the moon falls or the sun grows cold.

My point may be clearer to some if it is put in a different form. Nature is a word of varying meanings, which can best be understood if we consider itsvarious opposites. The Natural is the opposite of the Artificial, the Civil, the Human, the Spiritual, and the Supernatural. The Artificial does not now concern us. If we take the rest of the list of opposites, however, I think we can get a rough idea of what men have meant by Nature and what it is they oppose to her. Nature seems to be the spatial and temporal, as distinct from what is less fully so or not so at all. She seems to be the world of quantity, as against the world of quality; of objects as against consciousness; of the bound, as against the wholly or partially autonomous; of that which knows no values as against that which both has and perceives value; of efficient causes (or, in some modern systems, of no causality at all) as against final causes. Now I take it that when we understand a thing analytically and then dominate and use it for our own convenience, we reduce it to the level of `Nature’ in the sense that we suspend our judgements of value about it, ignore its final cause (if any), and treat it in terms of quantity. This repression of elements in what would otherwise be our total reaction to it is sometimes very noticeable and even painful: something has to be overcome before we can cut up a dead man or a live animal in a dissecting room. These objects resist the movement of the mind whereby we thrust them into the world of mere Nature. But in other instances too, a similar price is exacted for our analytical knowledge and manipulative power, even if we have ceased to count it. We do not look at trees either as Dryads or as beautiful objects while we cut them into beams: the first man who did so may have felt the price keenly, and the bleeding trees in Virgil and Spenser may be far-off echoes of that primeval sense of impiety. The stars lost their divinity as astronomy developed, and the Dying God has no place in chemical agriculture. To many, no doubt, this process is simply the gradual discovery that the real world is different from what we expected, and the old opposition to Galileo or to `body-snatchers’ is simply obscurantism. But that is not the whole story. It is not the greatest of modern scientists who feel most sure that the object, stripped of its qualitative properties and reduced to mere quantity, is wholly real. Little scientists, and little unscientific followers of science, may think so. The great minds know very well that the object, so treated, is an artificial abstraction, that something of its reality has been lost.

click for naturalism on wikipedia

From this point of view the conquest of Nature appears in a new light. We reduce things to mere Nature in order that we may `conquer’ them. We are always conquering Nature, because`Nature’ is the name for what we have, to some extent, conquered. The price of conquest is to treat a thing as mere Nature. Every conquest over Nature increases her domain. The stars do not become Nature till we can weigh and measure them: the soul does not become Nature till we can psychoanalyse her. The wresting of powers from Nature is also the surrendering of things toNature. As long as this process stops short of the final stage we may well hold that the gain outweighs the loss. But as soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of mere Nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same. This is one of the many instances where to carry a principle to what seems its logical conclusion produces absurdity. It is like the famous Irishman who found that a certain kind of stove reduced his fuel bill by half and thence concluded that two stoves of the same kind would enable him to warm his house with no fuel at all. It is the magician’s bargain: give up our soul, get power in return. But once our souls, that is, ourselves, have been given up, the power thus conferred will not belong to us. We shall in fact be the slaves and puppets of that to which we have given our souls. It is in Man’s power to treat himself as a mere `natural object’ and his own judgements of value as raw material for scientific manipulation to alter at will. The objection to his doing so does not lie in the fact that this point of view (like one’s first day in a dissecting room) is painful and shocking till we grow used to it. The pain and the shock are at most a warning and a symptom. The real objection is that if man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be: not raw material to be manipulated, as he fondly imagined, by himself, but by mere appetite, that is, mere Nature, in the person of his de-humanized Conditioners.

We have been trying, like Lear, to have it both ways: to lay down our human prerogative and yet at the same time to retain it. It is impossible. Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own `natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. 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.

I am not here thinking solely, perhaps not even chiefly, of those who are our public enemies at the moment. The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many a mild-eyed scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany/Traditional values are to be `debunked’ and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. The belief that we can invent `ideologies’ at pleasure, and the consequent treatment of mankind as mere υλη, specimens, preparations, begins to affect our very language. Once we killed bad men: now we liquidate unsocial elements. Virtue has become integration and diligence dynamism, and boys likely to be worthy of a commission are `potential officer material’. Most wonderful of all, the virtues of thrift and temperance, and even of ordinary intelligence, are sales-resistance.

The true significance of what is going on has been concealed by the use of the abstraction Man. Not that the word Man is necessarily a pure abstraction. In the Tao itself, as long as we remain within it, we find the concrete reality in which to participate is to be truly human: the real common will and common reason of humanity, alive, and growing like a tree, and branching out, as the situation varies, into ever new beauties and dignities of application. While we speak from within the Tao we can speak of Man having power over himself in a sense truly analogous to an individual’s self-control. But the moment we step outside and regard the Tao as a mere subjective product, this possibility has disappeared. What is now common to all men is a mere abstract universal, an H.C.F., and Man’s conquest of himself means simply the rule of the Conditioners over the conditioned human material, the world of post-humanity which, some knowingly and some unknowingly, nearly all men in all nations are at present labouring to produce.

Nothing I can say will prevent some people from describing this lecture as an attack on science. I deny the charge, of course: and real Natural Philosophers (there are some now alive) will perceive that in defending value I defend inter alia the value of knowledge, which must die like every other when its roots in the Tao are cut. But I can go further than that. I even suggest that from Science herself the cure might come.

I have described as a `magician’s bargain’ that process whereby man surrenders object after object, and finally himself, to Nature in return for power. And I meant what I said. The fact that the scientist has succeeded where the magician failed has put such a wide contrast between them in popular thought that the real story of the birth of Science is misunderstood. You will even find people who write about the sixteenth century as if Magic were a medieval survival and Science the new thing that came in to sweep it away. Those who have studied the period know better. There was very little magic in the Middle Ages: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high noon of magic. The serious magical endeavour and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. I allow that some (certainly not all) of the early scientists were actuated by a pure love of knowledge. But if we consider the temper of that age as a whole we can discern the impulse of which I speak.

There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious—such as digging up and mutilating the dead.

If we compare the chief trumpeter of the new era (Bacon) with Marlowe’s Faustus, the similarity is striking. You will read in some critics that Faustus has a thirst for knowledge. In reality, he hardly mentions it. It is not truth he wants from the devils, but gold and guns and girls. `All things that move between the quiet poles shall be at his command’ and `a sound magician is a mighty god’.3 In the same spirit Bacon condemns those who value knowledge as an end in itself: this, for him, is to use as a mistress for pleasure what ought to be a spouse for fruit.4 The true object is to extend Man’s power to the performance of all things possible. He rejects magic because it does not work;5 but his goal is that of the magician. In Paracelsus the characters of magician and scientist are combined. No doubt those who really founded modern science were usually those whose love of truth exceeded their love of power; in every mixed movement the efficacy comes from the good elements not from the bad. But the presence of the bad elements is not irrelevant to the direction the efficacy takes. It might be going too far to say that the modern scientific movement was tainted from its birth: but I think it would be true to say that it, was born in an unhealthy neighbourhood and at an inauspicious hour. Its triumphs may have-been too rapid and purchased at too high a price: reconsideration, and something like repentance, may be required.

Is it, then, possible to imagine a new Natural Philosophy, continually conscious that the `natural object’ produced by analysis and abstraction is not reality but only a view, and always correcting the abstraction? I hardly know what I am asking for. I hear rumours that Goethe’s approach to nature deserves fuller consideration—that even Dr Steiner may have seen something that orthodox researchers have missed. The regenerate science which I have in mind would not do even to minerals and vegetables what modern science threatens to do to man himself. When it explained it would not explain away. When it spoke of the parts it would remember the whole. While studying the It it would not lose what Martin Buber calls the Thou-situation. The analogy between the Tao of Man and the instincts of an animal species would mean for it new light cast on the unknown thing, Instinct, by the only known reality of conscience and not a reduction of conscience to the category of Instinct. Its followers would not be free with the words only and merely. In a word, it would conquer Nature without being at the same time conquered by her and buy knowledge at a lower cost than that of life.

Perhaps I am asking impossibilities. Perhaps, in the nature of things, analytical understanding must always be a basilisk which kills what it sees and only sees by killing. But if the scientists themselves cannot arrest this process before it reaches the common Reason and kills that too, then someone else must arrest it. What I most fear is the reply that I am `only one more’ obscurantist, that this barrier, like all previous barriers set up against the advance of science, can be safely passed. Such a reply springs from the fatal serialism of the modern imagination—the image of infinite unilinear progression which so haunts our minds. Because we have to use numbers so much we tend to think of every process as if it must be like the numeral series, where every step, to all eternity, is the same kind of step as the one before. I implore you to remember the Irishman and his two stoves. 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. Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost. But you cannot go on `explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on `seeing through5 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. How if you saw through the garden too? 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.


The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

  1. Men Without Chests
  2. The Way
  3. The Abolition of Man
  4. Appendix-Illustrations of the Tao

Notes

1. The Boke Named the Governour, I. iv: `Al men except physitions only shulde be excluded and kepte out of the norisery.’ I. vi: `After that a childe is come to seuen yeres of age… the most sure counsaile is to withdrawe him from all company of women.’

2. Some Thoughts concerning Education,§7:1 will also advise his Feet to be wash’d every Day in cold Water, and to have his Shoes so thin that they might leak and let in Water, whenever he comes near it.’ §174: `If he have a poetick vein, ‘tis to me the strangest thing in the World that the Father should desire or suffer it to be cherished or improved. Methinks the Parents should labour to have it stifled and suppressed as much as may be.’ Yet Locke is one of our most sensible writers on education.

3. Dr Faustus, 77-90.

4. Advancement of Learning, Bk I (p. 60 in Ellis and Spedding, 1905; p. 35 in Everyman Edition).

5. Filum Labyrinthi, i.


Transcriber’s Notes

Buber, Martin (1878-1965) philosopher who said the I-Thou approach to relationships is the only way people can be fully authentic; only a part of our humanity is expressed in the I-It relationship.

Clotho – of the three Fates of Greek mythology, she was the one who wove the fabric of life

factitious – contrived, artificial

Faustus – the magician of Renaisance legend who bargained his soul to the devil in exchange for power

Ferum victorem cepit – from Horace Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et/ Artes intulit agresti Latio.: „Greece, once overcome, overcame her wild conqueror,/ And brought the arts into rustic Latium.” The vanquished were actually the victors; Lewis is saying that nature, being conquered, is the true winner.

Francis Bacon – proponent (1561-1626) of the „scientific revolution” who advocated science as a tool to gain power over nature; he is known more for his polemical writings on science than his advancement of human knowledge

Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Romantic poet who reverenced nature as divine

H.C.F. – highest common factor

Inter alia – Amongst other things

Paracelsus – (1493-1541), more properly Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, who was known for his medical innovations during the Renaisance. Traditionally it has been said that Paracelsus was taught by several bishops and the occultist abbot of Sponheim, Johannes Trithemius.

Petitio – short for petitio principii or begging the question: a logical fallacy in which the thing to be proved is implicitly assumed.

Sic volo, sic jubeo – short for sic volo, sic jubeo, stat pro ratione voluntas: „Thus I will, thus I command, my pleasure stands for law.”

Sui generis – adj. [literally, of its own kind] constituting a class alone: unique, peculiar.

υλη – hule or matter, as used by Aristotle

Wireless – radio


The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

  1. Men Without Chests
  2. The Way
  3. The Abolition of Man
  4. Appendix-Illustrations of the Tao

Posted by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, March 2002, because the book is only in print sporadically

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/
augustine@columbia.edu

Last update: March 6, 2002

C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 2 The Way

Read Chapter 1 here – Men without chests

Read Chapter 3 here – Abolition of Man    Read Appendix here

In Chapter 2 CS Lewis addresses the fact that if children don’t believe in the Natural Law, in moral absolutes, in ought and ought not –  then humane society will not survive – unless maybe the educators can find some other basis for ethical behavior.  Lewis considers two such bases.  (1) They can say that certain kinds of behavior are „useful” to society and others are not, and so, on this factual basis, try to build an ethical system.  But this will not work because anyone can ask, „Why ought I be the one who has to deny himself something for the sake of others?”  The educators cannot logically say, „You ought to because…,” since they have already ruled out the Natural Law, which is the sole source of such imperative statements as „One ought to be willing to lay down one’s life to defend one’s country,” etc.  (2)  The educators can say that „instinct” (whatever that is) could be the basis for ethical behavior.  This will not work, either, because we have many instincts and they conflict with one another – plus, it is questionable whether there really is an instinct to protect and preserve one’s society.

Chapter 2

THE WAY

It is upon the Trunk that a gentleman works.

—Analects of Confucius, I.2

The practical result of education in the spirit of The Green Book must be the destruction of the society which accepts it. But this is not necessarily a refutation of subjectivism about values as a theory. The true doctrine might be a doctrine which if we accept we die. No one who speaks from within the Tao could reject it on that account: ‘εν δε φαει και ‘δλεσσου. But it has not yet come to that. There are theoretical difficulties in the philosophy of Gaius and Titius.

However subjective they may be about some traditional values, Gaius and Titius have shown by the very act of writing The Green Book that there must be some other values about which they are not subjective at all. They write in order to produce certain states of mind in the rising generation, if not because they think those states of mind intrinsically just or good, yet certainly because they think them to be the means to some state of society which they regard as desirable. It would not be difficult to collect from various passages in The Green Book what their ideal is. But we need not. The important point is not the precise nature of their end, but the fact that they have an end at all. They must have, or their book (being purely practical in intention) is written to no purpose. And this end must have real value in their eyes. To abstain from calling it good and to use, instead, such predicates as ‘necessary’ or ‘progressive’ or ‘efficient’ would be a subterfuge. They could be forced by argument to answer the questions ‘necessary for what?’, ‘progressing towards what?’, ‘effecting what?’; in the last resort they would have to admit that some state of affairs was in their opinion good for its own sake. And this time they could not maintain that ‘good’ simply described their own emotion about it. For the whole purpose of their book is so to condition theyoung reader that he will share their approval, and this would be either a fool’s or a villain’s undertaking unless they held that their approval was in some way valid or correct.

In actual fact Gaius and Titius will be found to hold, with complete uncritical dogmatism, the whole system of values which happened to be in vogue among moderately educated young men of the professional classes during the period between the two wars.1 Their scepticism about values is on the surface: it is for use on other people’s values; about the values current in their own set they are not nearly sceptical enough. And this phenomenon is very usual. A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional or (as they would say) ‘sentimental’ values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process. They claim to be cutting away the parasitic growth of emotion, religious sanction, and inherited taboos, in order that ‘real’ or ‘basic’ values may emerge. I will now try to find out what happens if this is seriously attempted.

Let us continue to use the previous example—that of death for a good cause—not, of course, because virtue is the only value or martyrdom the only virtue, but because this is the experimentum crucis which shows different systems of thought in the clearest light. Let us suppose that an Innovator in values regards dulce et decorum and greater love hath no man as mere irrational sentiments which are to be stripped off in order that we may get down to the ‘realistic’ or ‘basic’ ground of this value. Where will he find such a ground?

First of all, he might say that the real value lay in the utility of such sacrifice to the community. ‘Good’, he might say, ‘means what is useful to the community.’ But of course the death of the community is not useful to the community—only the death of some of its members. What is really meant is that the death of some men is useful to other men. That is very true. But on what ground are some men being asked to die for the benefit of others? Every appeal to pride, honour, shame, or love is excluded by hypothesis. To use these would be to return to sentiment and the Innovator’s task is, having cut all that away, to explain to men, in terms of pure reasoning, why they will be well advised to die that others may live. He may say ‘Unless some of us risk death all of us are certain to die.’ But that will be true only in a limited number of cases; and even when it is true it provokes the very reasonable counter question ‘Why should I be one of those who take the risk?’

At this point the Innovator may ask why, after all, selfishness should be more ‘rational’ or ‘intelligent’ than altruism. The question is welcome. If by Reason we mean the process actually employed by Gaius and Titius when engaged in debunking (that is, the connecting by inference of propositions, ultimately derived from sense data, with further propositions), then the answer must be that a refusal to sacrifice oneself is no more rational than a consent to do so. And no less rational. Neither choice is rational—or irrational—at all. From propositions about fact alone nopractical conclusion can ever be drawn. This will preserve society cannot lead to do this except by the mediation of society ought to be preserved. This will cost you your life cannot lead directly to do not do this: it can lead to it only through a felt desire or an acknowledged duty of self-preservation. The Innovator is trying to get a conclusion in the imperative mood out of premisses in the indicative mood: and though he continues trying to all eternity he cannot succeed, for the thing is impossible. We must therefore either extend the word Reason to include what our ancestors called Practical Reason and confess that judgements such as society ought to be preserved (though they can support themselves by no reason of the sort that Gaius and Titius demand) are not mere sentiments but are rationality itself; or else we must give up at once, and for ever, the attempt to find a core of ‘rational’ value behind all the sentiments we have debunked. The Innovator will not take the first alternative, for practical principles known to all men by Reason are simply the Tao which he has set out to supersede. He is more likely to give up the quest for a ‘rational’ core and to hunt for some other ground even more ‘basic’ and ‘realistic’.

This he will probably feel that he has found in Instinct. The preservation of society, and of the species itself, are ends that do not hang on the precarious thread of Reason: they are given by Instinct. That is why there is no need to argue against the man who does not acknowledge them. We have an instinctive urge to preserve our own species. That is why men ought to work for posterity. We have no instinctive urge to keep promises or to respect individual life: that is why scruples of justice and humanity—in fact the Tao—can be properly swept away when they conflict with our real end, the preservation of the species. That, again, is why the modern situation permits and demands a new sexual morality: the old taboos served some real purpose in helping to preserve the species, but contraceptives have modified this and we can now abandon many of the taboos. For of course sexual desire, being instinctive, is to be gratified whenever it does not conflict with the preservation of the species. It looks, in fact, as if an ethics based on instinct will give the Innovator all he wants and nothing that he does not want.

In reality we have not advanced one step. I will not insist on the point that Instinct is a name for we know not what (to say that migratory birds find their way by instinct is only to say that we do not know how migratory birds find their way), for I think it is here being used in a fairly definite sense, to mean an unreflective or spontaneous impulse widely felt by the members of a given species. In what way does Instinct, thus conceived, help us to find ‘real’ values? Is it maintained that we must obey Instinct, that we cannot do otherwise? But if so, why are Green Booksand the like written? Why this stream of exhortation to drive us where we cannot help going? Why such praise for those who have submitted to the inevitable? Or is it maintained that if we do obey Instinct we shall be happy and satisfied? But the very question we are considering was that of facing death which (so far as the Innovator knows) cuts off every possible satisfaction: and if we have an instinctive desire for the good of posterity then this desire, by the very nature of the case, can never be satisfied, since its aim is achieved, if at all, when we are dead. It looks very much as if the Innovator would have to say not that we must obey Instinct, nor that it will satisfy us to do so, but that we ought to obey it.2

But why ought we to obey Instinct? Is there another instinct of a higher order directing us to do so, and a third of a still higher order directing us to obey it?—an infinite regress of instincts? This is presumably impossible, but nothing else will serve. From the statement about psychological fact ‘I have an impulse to do so and so’ we cannot by any ingenuity derive the practical principle ‘I ought to obey this impulse’. Even if it were true that men had a spontaneous, unreflective impulse to sacrifice their own lives for the preservation of their fellows, it remains a quite separate question whether this is an impulse they should control or one they should indulge. For even the Innovator admits that many impulses (those which conflict with the preservation of the species) have to be controlled. And this admission surely introduces us to a yet more fundamental difficulty.

Telling us to obey Instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people’. People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. If it is held that the instinct for preserving the species should always be obeyed at the expense of other instincts, whence do we derive this rule of precedence? To listen to that instinct speaking in its own cause and deciding it in its own favour would be rather simple-minded. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of all the rest. By the very act of listening to one rather than to others we have already prejudged the case. If we did not bring to the examination of our instincts a knowledge of their comparative dignity we could never learn it from them. And that knowledge cannot itself be instinctive: the judge cannot be one of the parties judged; or, if he is, the decision is worthless and there is no ground for placing the preservation of the species above self-preservation or sexual appetite.

The idea that, without appealing to any court higher than the instincts themselves, we can yet find grounds for preferring one instinct above its fellows dies very hard. We grasp at useless words: we call it the ‘basic’, or ‘fundamental’, or ‘primal’, or ‘deepest’ instinct. It is of no avail. Either these words conceal a value judgement passed upon the instinct and therefore not derivablefrom it, or else they merely record its felt intensity, the frequency of its operation and its wide distribution. If the former, the whole attempt to base value upon instinct has been abandoned: if the latter, these observations about the quantitative aspects of a psychological event lead to no practical conclusion. It is the old dilemma. Either the premisses already concealed an imperative or the conclusion remains merely in the indicative.3

Finally, it is worth inquiry whether there is any instinct to care for posterity or preserve the species. I do not discover it in myself: and yet I am a man rather prone to think of remote futurity—a man who can read Mr Olaf Stapledon with delight. Much less do I find it easy to believe that the majority of people who have sat opposite me in buses or stood with me in queues feel an unreflective impulse to do anything at all about the species, or posterity. Only people educated in a particular way have ever had the idea ‘posterity’ before their minds at all. It is difficult to assign to instinct our attitude towards an object which exists only for reflective men. What we have by nature is an impulse to preserve our own children and grandchildren; an impulse which grows progressively feebler as the imagination looks forward and finally dies out in the ‘deserts of vast futurity’. No parents who were guided by this instinct would dream for a moment of setting up the claims of their hypothetical descendants against those of the baby actually crowing and kicking in the room. Those of us who accept the Tao may, perhaps, say that they ought to do so: but that is not open to those who treat instinct as the source of value. As we pass from mother love to rational planning for the future we are passing away from the realm of instinct into that of choice and reflection: and if instinct is the source of value, planning for the future ought to be less respectable and less obligatory than the baby language and cuddling of the fondest mother or the most fatuous nursery anecdotes of a doting father. If we are to base ourselves upon instinct, these things are the substance, and care for posterity the shadow—the huge, flickering shadow of the nursery happiness cast upon the screen of the unknown future. I do not say this projection is a bad thing: but then I do not believe that instinct is the ground of value judgements. What is absurd is to claim that your care for posterity finds its justification in instinct and then flout at every turn the only instinct on which it could be supposed to rest, tearing the child almost from the breast to creche and kindergarten in the interests of progress and the coming race.

Matt 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

The truth finally becomes apparent that neither in any operation with factual propositions nor in any appeal to instinct can the Innovator find the basis for a system of values. None of the principles he requires are to be found there: but they are all to be found somewhere else. ‘All within the four seas are his brothers’ (xii. 5) says Confucius of the Chün-tzu, the cuor gentil or gentleman. Humani nihil a me alienum puto says the Stoic. ‘Do as you would be done by,’ says Jesus. ‘Humanity is to be preserved,’ says Locke.4 All the practical principles behind the Innovator’s case for posterity, or society, or the species, are there from time immemorial in the Tao. But they are nowhere else. Unless you accept these without question as being to the world of action what axioms are to the world of theory, you can have no practical principles whatever. You cannot reach them as conclusions: they are premisses. You may, since they can give no ‘reason’ for themselves of a kind to silence Gaius and Titius, regard them as sentiments: but then you must give up contrasting ‘real’ or ‘rational’ value with sentimental value. All value will be sentimental; and you must confess (on pain of abandoning every value) that all sentiment is not ‘merely’ subjective. You may, on the other hand, regard them as rational—nay as rationality itself—as things so obviously reasonable that they neither demand nor admit proof. But then you must allow that Reason can be practical, that an ought must not be dismissed because it cannot produce some is as its credential. If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all.

To some it will appear that I have merely restored under another name what they always meant by basic or fundamental instinct. But much more than a choice of words is involved. The Innovator attacks traditional values (the Tao) in defence of what he at first supposes to be (in some special sense) ‘rational’ or ‘biological’ values. But as we have seen, all the values which he uses in attacking the Tao, and even claims to be substituting for it, are themselves derived from the Tao. If he had really started from scratch, from right outside the human tradition of value, no jugglery could have advanced him an inch towards the conception that a man should die for the community or work for posterity. If the Tao falls, all his own conceptions of value fall with it. Not one of them can claim any authority other than that of the Tao. Only by such shreds of the Tao as he has inherited is he enabled even to attack it. The question therefore arises what title he has to select bits of it for acceptance and to reject others. For if the bits he rejects have no authority, neither have those he retains: if what he retains is valid, what he rejects is equally valid too.

The Innovator, for example, rates high the claims of posterity. He cannot get any valid claim for posterity out of instinct or (in the modern sense) reason. He is really deriving our duty to posterity from the Tao; our duty to do good to all men is an axiom of Practical Reason, and our duty to do good to our descendants is a clear deduction from it. But then, in every form of theTao which has come down to us, side by side with the duty to children and descendants lies the duty to parents and ancestors. By what right do we reject one and accept the other? Again, the Innovator may place economic value first. To get people fed and clothed is the great end, and in pursuit of its scruples about justice and good faith may be set aside. The Tao of course agrees with him about the importance of getting the people fed and clothed. Unless the Innovator were himself using the Tao he could never have learned of such a duty. But side by side with it in theTao lie those duties of justice and good faith which he is ready to debunk. What is his warrant? He may be a Jingoist, a Racialist, an extreme nationalist, who maintains that the advancement of his own people is the object to which all else ought to yield. But no kind of factual observation and no appeal to instinct will give him a ground for this option. Once more, he is in fact deriving it from the Tao: a duty to our own kin, because they are our own kin, is a part of traditional morality. But side by side with it in the Tao, and limiting it, lie the inflexible demands of justice, and the rule that, in the long run, all men are our brothers. Whence comes the Innovator’s authority to pick and choose?

Since I can see no answer to these questions, I draw the following conclusions. This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgements. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgement of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) ‘ideologies’, all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they possess. If my duty to my parents is a superstition, then so is my duty to posterity. If justice is a superstition, then so is my duty to my country or my race. If the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a real value, then so is conjugal fidelity. The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

Does this mean, then, that no progress in our perceptions of value can ever take place? That we are bound down for ever to an unchanging code given once for all? And is it, in any event, possible to talk of obeying what I call the Tao? If we lump together, as I have done, the traditional moralities of East and West, the Christian, the Pagan, and the Jew, shall we not find many contradictions and some absurdities? I admit all this. Some criticism, some removal of contradictions, even some real development, is required. But there are two very different kinds of criticism.

A theorist about language may approach his native tongue, as it were from outside, regarding its genius as a thing that has no claim on him and advocating wholesale alterations of its idiom and spelling in the interests of commercial convenience or scientific accuracy. That is one thing. A great poet, who has ‘loved, and been well nurtured in, his mother tongue’, may also make great alterations in it, but his changes of the language are made in the spirit of the language itself: he works from within. The language which suffers, has also inspired the changes. That is a different thing—as different as the works of Shakespeare are from Basic English. It is the difference between alteration from within and alteration from without: between the organic and the surgical. In the same way, the Tao admits development from within. There is a difference between a real moral advance and a mere innovation. From the Confucian ‘Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you’ to the Christian ‘Do as you would be done by’ is a real advance. The morality of Nietzsche is a mere innovation. The first is an advance because no one who did not admit the validity of the old maxim could see reason for accepting the new one, and anyone who accepted the old would at once recognize the new as an extension of the same principle. If he rejected it, he would have to reject it as a superfluity, something that went too far, not as something simply heterogeneous from his own ideas of value. But the Nietzschean ethic can be accepted only if we are ready to scrap traditional morals as a mere error and then to put ourselves in a position where we can find no ground for any value judgements at all. It is the difference between a man who says to us: ‘You like your vegetables moderately fresh; why not grow your own and have them perfectly fresh?’ and a man who says, ‘Throw away that loaf and try eating bricks and centipedes instead.’

Those who understand the spirit of the Tao and who have been led by that spirit can modify it in directions which that spirit itself demands. Only they can know what those directions are. The outsider knows nothing about the matter. His attempts at alteration, as we have seen, contradict themselves. So far from being able to harmonize discrepancies in its letter by penetration to its spirit, he merely snatches at some one precept, on which the accidents of time and place happen to have riveted his attention, and then rides it to death—for no reason that he can give. From within the Tao itself comes the only authority to modify the Tao. This is what Confucius meant when he said ‘With those who follow a different Way it is useless to take counsel’.5 This is why Aristotle said that only those who have been well brought up can usefully study ethics: to the corrupted man, the man who stands outside the Tao, the very starting point of this science is invisible.6 He may be hostile, but he cannot be critical: he does not know what is being discussed. This is why it was also said ‘This people that knoweth not the Law is accursed’7 and ‘He that believeth not shall be damned’.8 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. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut. He can say nothing to the purpose. Outside the Tao there is no ground for criticizing either the Tao or anything else. In particular instances it may, no doubt, be a matter of some delicacy to decide where the legitimate internal criticism ends and the fatal external kind begins. But wherever any precept of traditional morality is simply challenged to produce its credentials, as though the burden of proof lay on it, we have taken the wrong position. The legitimate reformer endeavours to show that the precept in question conflicts with some precept which its defenders allow to be more fundamental, or that it does not really embody the judgement of value it professes to embody. The direct frontal attack ‘Why?’—’What good does it do?’—’Who said so?’ is never permissible; not because it is harsh or offensive but because no values at all can justify themselves on that level. If you persist in that kind of trial you will destroy all values, and so destroy the bases of your own criticism as well as the thing criticized. You must not hold a pistol to the head of the Tao. Nor must we postpone obedience to a precept until its credentials have been examined. Only those who are practising the Tao will understand it. It is the well-nurtured man, the cuor gentil, and he alone, who can recognize Reason when it comes.9 It is Paul, the Pharisee, the man ‘perfect as touching the Law’ who learns where and how that Law was deficient.10 In order to avoid misunderstanding, I may add that though I myself am a Theist, and indeed a Christian, I am not here attempting any indirect argument for Theism. I am simply arguing that if we are to have values at all we must accept the ultimate platitudes of Practical Reason as having absolute validity: that any attempt, having become sceptical about these, to reintroduce value lower down on some supposedly more ‘realistic’ basis, is doomed. Whether this position implies a supernatural origin for the Tao is a question I am not here concerned with.

Yet how can the modern mind be expected to embrace the conclusion we have reached? This Tao which, it seems, we must treat as an absolute is simply a phenomenon like any other—the reflection upon the minds of our ancestors of the agricultural rhythm in which they lived or even of their physiology. We know already in principle how such things are produced: soon we shall know in detail: eventually we shall be able to produce them at will. Of course, while we did not know how minds were made, we accepted this mental furniture as a datum, even as a master. But many things in nature which were once our masters have become our servants. Why not this? Why must our conquest of nature stop short, in stupid reverence, before this final and toughest bit of ‘nature’ which has hitherto been called the conscience of man? You threaten us with some obscure disaster if we step outside it: but we have been threatened in that way by obscurantists at every step in our advance, and each time the threat has proved false. You say we shall have no values at all if we step outside the Tao. Very well: we shall probably find that we can get on quite comfortably without them. Let us regard all ideas of what we ought to do simply as an interesting psychological survival: let us step right out of all that and start doing what we like. Let us decide for ourselves what man is to be and make him into that: not on any ground of imagined value, but because we want him to be such. Having mastered our environment, let us now master ourselves and choose our own destiny.

This is a very possible position: and those who hold it cannot be accused of self-contradiction like the half-hearted sceptics who still hope to find ‘real’ values when they have debunked the traditional ones. This is the rejection of the concept of value altogether. I shall need another lecture to consider it.


NOTES

1 The real (perhaps unconscious) philosophy of Gaius and Titius becomes clear if we contrast the two following lists of disapprovals and approvals.

A. Disapprovals: A mother’s appeal to a child to be ‘brave’ is ‘nonsense’ (Green Book, p. 62). The reference of the word ‘gentleman’ is ‘extremely vague’ (ibid.) ‘To call a man a coward tells us really nothing about what he does’ (p. 64). Feelings about a country or empire are feelings ‘about nothing in particular’ (p. 77).

B. Approvals: Those who prefer the arts of peace to the arts of war (it is not said in what circumstances) are such that ‘we may want to call them wise men’ (p. 65). The pupil is expected ‘to believe in a democratic community life’ (p. 67). ‘Contact with the ideas of other people is, as we know, healthy’ (p. 86). The reason for bathrooms (‘that people are healthier and pleasanter to meet when they are clean’) is ‘too obvious to need mentioning’ (p. 142). It will be seen that comfort and security, as known to a suburban street in peace-time, are the ultimate values: those things which can alone produce or spiritualize comfort and security are mocked. Man lives by bread alone, and the ultimate source of bread is the baker’s van: peace matters more than honour and can be preserved by jeering at colonels and reading newspapers.

2 The most determined effort which I know to construct a theory of value on the basis of ‘satisfaction of impulses’ is that of Dr I. A. Richards (Principles of Literary Criticism, 1924). The old objection to defining Value as Satisfaction is the universal value judgement that ‘it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied’. To meet this Dr Richards endeavours to show that our impulses can be arranged in a hierarchy and some satisfactions preferred to others without an appeal to any criterion other than satisfaction. He does this by the doctrine that some impulses are more ‘important’ than others—an important impulse being one whose frustration involves the frustration of other impulses. A good systematization (i.e. the good life) consists in satisfying as many impulses as possible; which entails satisfying the ‘important’ at the expense of the ‘unimportant’. The objections to this scheme seem to me to be two:

(I) Without a theory of immortality it leaves no room for the value of noble death. It may, of course, be said that a man who has saved his life by treachery will suffer for the rest of that life from frustration. But not, surely, frustration of all his impulses? Whereas the dead man will have no satisfaction. Or is it maintained that since he had no unsatisfied impulses he is better off than the disgraced and living man? This at once raises the second objection.

(2) Is the value of a systematization to be judged by the presence of satisfactions or the absence of dissatisfactions? The extreme case is that of the dead man in whom satisfactions and dissatisfactions (on the modern view) both equal zero, as against the successful traitor who can still eat, drink, sleep, scratch and copulate, even if he cannot have friendship or love or self-respect. But it arises at other levels. Suppose A has only 500 impulses and all are satisfied, and that B has 1200 impulses whereof 700 are satisfied and 500 not: which has the better systematization? There is no doubt which Dr Richards actually prefers—he even praises art on the ground that it makes us ‘discontented’ with ordinary crudities! (op. cit., p. 230). The only trace I find of a philosophical basis for this preference is the statement that ‘the more complex an activity the more conscious it is’ (p. 109). But if satisfaction is the only value, why should increase of consciousness be good? For consciousness is the condition of all dissatisfactions as well as of all satisfactions. Dr Richards’s system gives no support to his (and our) actual preference for civil life over savage and human over animal—or even for life over death.

3 The desperate expedients to which a man can be driven if he attempts to base value on fact are well illustrated by Dr C. H. Waddington’s fate in Science and Ethics. Dr Waddington here explains that ‘existence is its own justification’ (p. 14), and writes: ‘An existence which is essentially evolutionary is itself the justification for an evolution towards a more comprehensive existence’ (p. 17). I do not think Dr Waddington is himself at ease in this view, for he does endeavour to recommend the course of evolution to us on three grounds other than its mere occurrence, (a) That the later stages include or ‘comprehend’ the earlier, (b) That T. H. Huxley’s picture of Evolution will not revolt you if you regard it from an ‘actuarial’ point of view, (c)That, any way, after all, it isn’t half so bad as people make out (‘not so morally offensive that we cannot accept it’, p. 18). These three palliatives are more creditable to Dr Waddington’s heart than his head and seem to me to give up the main position. If Evolution is praised (or, at least, apologized for) on the ground of any properties it exhibits, then we are using an external standard and the attempt to make existence its own justification has been abandoned. If that attempt is maintained, why does Dr Waddington concentrate on Evolution: i.e., on a temporary phase of organic existence in one planet? This is ‘geocentric’. If Good = ‘whatever Nature happens to be doing’, then surely we should notice what Nature is doing as a whole; and Nature as a whole, I understand, is working steadily and irreversibly towards the final extinction of all life in every part of the universe, so that Dr Waddington’s ethics, stripped of their unaccountable bias towards such a parochial affair as tellurian biology, would leave murder and suicide our only duties. Even this, I confess, seems to me a lesser objection than the discrepancy between Dr Waddington’s first principle and the value judgements men actually make. To value anything simply because it occurs is in fact to worship success, like Quislings or men of Vichy. Other philosophies more wicked have been devised: none more vulgar. I am far from suggesting that Dr Waddington practises in real life such grovelling prostration before the fait accompli. Let us hope that Rasselas,chap. 22, gives the right picture of what his philosophy amounts to in action. (‘The philosopher, supposing the rest vanquished, rose up and departed with the air of a man that had co-operated with the present system.’)

4 See Appendix.

Analects of Confucius, xv. 39.

Eth. Nic. 1095 b, 1140 b, 1151 a.

7 John 7:49. The speaker said it in malice, but with more truth than he meant. Cf. John 13:51.

8 Mark 16:6

Republic, 402 A

10 Philippians 3:6


Transcriber’s Notes

Cuor gentil – a noble heart

‘εν δε φαει και ‘δλεσσου – ‘en de faei kai dlessou’ roughly „in the light you perceive it [light]” (?)

Dulce et decorum – sweet and seemly, from the Roman saying dulce et decorum est pro patria mori It is sweet and seemly to die for one’s country.

Humani nihil a me alienum puto from Terence: homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto: „I am a man; and nothing of man is foreign to me.”

Nietzschean ethic – an ‘ends justify the means,’ ‘win at any cost’ philosophy; the starting point his philosophy is his own desire instead of reality; he is a nihilist.

Olaf Stapledon – a famous science fiction writer (1886-1950) whose most famous works include Last and First MenDarkness and the Light, and Star Maker.

Theist – a believer in one or more gods, e.g. Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Zoroastrians


The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

Posted by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, March 2002, because the book is only in print sporadically

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/
augustine@columbia.edu

Last update: March 6, 2002

Atheist Student Saved by the Sovereign Truth of God (via) I’ll be honest

Michael was challenged with the true Truth while on a college campus and he soon came to realize that his philosophy and atheism could not stand against the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a great video to pass on to young people and especially college kids as Michael discusses how he delved deep into philosophy scrambling to find anything that even remotely seemed like „truth” to him, personally. Instead of finding answers it sunk him down low and he found no value in it. Then he took a class on the varieties of religion and he started to value people with faith. He then started reading Richard Dawkins and considering God through Dawkin’s writing. Then came the Kirksville  Evangelical outreach. Michael was sitting and mocking an Ill be honest card about how you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. He was mocking it with 2 of his friends. Then a girl from Columbia went up to them and engaged them in a conversation. This led to Michael thinking more and more and after about an hour his friends left and tried to pull him away. His discussion with the girl lasted 3 hours.

Michael was trying to get at her any sort of argument he could come up with. No matter how hard  the questions he threw at her, what struck Michael was that every single response she gave was essentially the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the good news of His coming, His dying and the reality of sin. There was discussion of what he was bringing up but there was no argumentation. She would say, this doesn’t really matter. What matters is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. By the time they split, there was a real drive for Michael to want to read the Bible. To see what she was talking about. To see if any of it was true….(these notes are just from the first 8 minutes. There’s much more insight in the following 14 minutes)

Watch the video, it is a tremendous learning experience for me as to how to talk to a non believer. The student who talked to Michael did not argue, did not delve into philosophy, she answered all of Michael’s questions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think our biggest impediment in engaging non believers is the fear that we won’t know how to answer their hard questions, we feel we are lacking in rhetorical skills. But we do know the Gospel, and that is enough to get us to start conversations and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

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Video of the week – „Doing The Right Thing”

Chuck Colson

Great lectures for students and anyone (every believer should be) interested in apologetics. This post will be added to the Apologetics page (which you can easily access by clicking on the Oxford picture icon (on the right sidebar of the blog) or at the top of the blog, under the Chicago picture, just click on „Apologetics”.

Here are five videos from Chuck Colson from his „Doing The Right Thing Ethics Tour”. You can find more video messages from Chuck Colson on his Youtube Channel here – Colson Center. These lectures took place on the Spring 2011 tour.

  1. A Crisis of Ethics, Doing the Right Thing – begins with a short trailer, Introduction by Eric Metaxas and Chuck Colson lecture/speech.
  2. „Is there truth; a moral law we can all know? – David Naugle: The Roots Of Moral Authority
  3. „If we know the right thing, can we do it?” – John Stonestreet: return to Virtuous Living
  4. „What does it mean to be human?” – David Stevens: A Matter of Life and Death
  5. Doing The Right Thing – Ethics Tour – Dallas – Panel Discussion and at bottom of page:
  6. Chuck Colson-How God turned around Nixon’s hatchet man

Click on „More” to proceed to the six conference videos.

Mai mult

R C Sproul – Thinking Deeply in the Ocean of Revelation: The Bible and the Life of the Mind Desiring God 2010 National Conference

R.C. Sproul via desiringGod.org from 2010 Desiring God Conference –

Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

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R C Sproul – Thinking Deeply in the Ocean of Re…, posted with vodpod

the following are notes taken during the session.

Acts 17:22-28

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.”

Introduction: The Primary Philosophical Questions

In May of 585 B.C., the first ever predicted solar eclipse was recorded. It had been predicted by Thales of Miletus, who is considered to be the father of Western philosophy and science. He was captivated by a pressing problem: How can I make sense of all of the diversity of my experience in this world? This gave rise to the concept of a universe and a university (unity + diversity).

The answer Thales found to his question was that the singular principle that makes sense out of everything else in this world is water. Why? He noticed that everything he saw in the world appeared either as a solid, liquid, or gas. Water manifested itself in each of these forms. Water also sustained life, which is most important.

Another problem that faced philosophers was the problem of motion. We typically assume that something in motion has been moved by another object. Thales looked for something that had the capacity for hylozoism, something that could move by itself. He came to the conclusion that water was this thing. Those that followed after Thales suggested other substances.

Parmenides, a prominent pre-Socratic philosopher, said, “Whatever is, is.” This may seem to be a transparent observation, but it is very profound. If something is real, it can’t not be. Non-being is nothingness. For everything to exist, there must be an unchangeable, fully actualized being.

Over against the thinking of Parmenides came the challenge of Heraclitus. He made the assertion that whatever is, is changing. We experience this in the process of aging. The operative word, then, is change or flux. He was famous for saying, “You can’t step in the same river twice.” The distinction was made between pure being, which can’t change, and our existence, which is constantly changing.

Who is right? This is what awakened Plato from his dogmatic slumber. By his time, philosophy had become dominated by skepticism. Socrates, Plato’s teacher, had begun asking the Stoics penetrating questions. He said that you can’t have a coherent science without both university and diversity. This eventually gave rise to Plato’s theory of ideas. Aristotle, Plato’s student, sought to resolve some of the problems Plato was left with. He postulated his idea of God: the Unmoved Mover, one who is the source of all motion and not the result of someone else’s motion.

After Plato and Aristotle a whole wave of skepticism arose. Two prominent schools of thought in this era were Stoicism and Epicureanism. They both abandoned the quest for ultimate reality and turned their attention to things they could learn and use right now. The Epicureans advocated refined hedonism: the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The Stoics came up with a calculus, as it were, of pleasure, in the effort to avoid excess in either consumption or abstention.

Mars Hill Aeropagus

Paul in Athens

When Paul arrived in Athens, Luke tells us that he was “deeply moved.” His soul was provoked within him because he saw that the city was given totally to idolatry. The best that Athens could produce, in the final analysis, was to be a center of factories devoted to the making of pagan idols. Paul went to the synagogues and marketplace preaching Christ. He then went up to the Areopagus and encountered these philosophers whose practice was to meet every day and discuss what’s new.

He began to teach the philosophers: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.” He noticed that they were filled with religion because their city was filled with idols. They even had one dedicated “To the Unknown God.” Paul said, “The one whom you are worshiping in ignorance, I want to declare to you this day. He is the one who is the creator of all. He is the one who does not need your prayers, your gifts, your worship, your idols. In fact, he doesn’t need anything.”

Paul urged them to seek God and then gave what I believe to be the most profound philosophical statement in the whole New Testament: “In him we live, we move, and we have our being.” Ultimate reality is found in God who is the creator of everything. God is absolute, pure being. He reveals himself to Moses as “I am who I am.” He is the supreme monarch of heaven and earth. God alone has pure actuality. There is no room for improvement with him.

I’m a human being. More accurately, to use Plato’s language, I am a human becoming. I still have potential that hasn’t been realized. I’m still changing. But God doesn’t change. My being is not found in me independently. It is found not in water or air but in God, who brings something out of nothing.

Conclusion

Let this be a brief introduction to the way the biblical witness gives answers to the questions that have plagued theoretical thought as long as there have been people. We will never find an answer to being if we try to find it outside the being and the character of God.

© Desiring God

Is God Dead? Atheism vs Christianity. Debate (2 hours) at Wheaton College

April 2008 – Setting: Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, Cole Memorial Chapel- Cicero’s Podium, a Great Issues Debate Series (a  worthy 2 hour debate)

Peter Kreeft (Professor of Philosophy, Boston College) vs Michael Tooley, (Professor of Philosophy and College Professor of Distinction, University of Colorado, Boulder).

Please click on image below to access my Apologetics Page with additional material:

John Lennox – Is faith delusional? Atlanta Civic Center (Classic lecture)

John Lennox has a multi media apologetics page at Monergism.com

Introduction excerpt from lecture in video below:

John Lennox:   Honorable Governor of Georgia, ladies and gentlemen- It is a delight for me to be invited to address you this evening and of course as you know, to every lecture belongs a biography. I am an ulster Irishman, of Scottish descent, with an English wife and Welsh children, and Scottish grandchildren. And, so I can moderately claim to represent the United Kingdom.

I turned up in Cambridge in the middle of last century, to study mathematics and in my first week as a student, one of my fellow students said to me, „Do you believe in God?” Then he said, „Oh sorry, I forgot. You’re Irish. They all believe in God there and they fight about it.”

And that raised in my mind, not for the first time, the question under discussion tonight.

Was my faith in God simply a product of my Irish heredity and genetics? My parents were believers in God. And, so were my grandparents. So, automatically I take on their faith. And, so I wanted to know the answer to the question.And I set about on my first days as a student at Cambridge to get to know people who did not share my worldview. So I started to discuss with atheists. That led me to learn the German language and travel for twenty odd years behind the iron curtain. It led me also to learn Russian and spend the last twenty years in many discussions and debates at Universities and Academies of Science in the former Soviet Union in order to understand what it is that motivates atheism.

So that is my background and it has led me recently to debate with Dawkins and Hitchens.

This event took place in 2009. Subject: Faith, reason and evidence.(Some interesting anecdotal evidence from communist times lived behind the Iron Curtain and evidence for the delusion of atheism) John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford and adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.

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1st collector for John Lennox – Is Faith Delusional?
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Does this generation really want the truth? Ravi Zacharias Part 2

Ravi Zacharias on the historicity of the Bible and its prophetic accuracy; he gives as example the Book of Daniel prophecy concerning Alexander the Great. Daniel 8:1-27 and 11:3-4.

Ravi Zacharias at University of Illinois. (transcribed from video-7 minutes)
Student- Hi Ravi, how you doing?

Ravi- Hey good to see you.

Student: I just wanted to ask you, could you explain in a matter more pragmatic than we’re used to why a person should believe in the word of God as the Bible and why they should basically believe every word it says as opposed to any other ‘holy book’ and why they should give their entire life to Christ.

Ravi- I mean, I know it’s a really rough question, but that’s like saying – define God and give three examples.

Student- Isn’t that just the Trinity?

Ravi- Yeah, well it’s a legitimate question, I’m sorry for responding humorously there, of course it takes a whole lot of time. In my book ‘Can man live without God?’ which was a series of lectures delivered at Harvard, the second part of it, deals with that very thing, so let me start off the best as I can.

First, I believe that truth as a category does exist. Number two it is possible in a majority of claims of philosophical and historical statements to verify the truthfulness of those affirmations. Third, I believe there are existential realities from which I cannot run, which drive me to find the answers to the existential struggles that I live with, not just the philosophical ones.

The philosophical ones are real and I have to deal with them, but so are the existential ones and by the way-existentialism came as a response to the unpaid bills of philosophy. Philosophy has become so cerebral that the passions have been ignored and the existentialism came into being  and sort of tossed out the rationalistic way of interpreting things and went purely with the gut level feeling, a la Sartre, and Camus and so on.But I think what we are trying to do is we are trying to find the bridge between the head and the heart. There are numerous ways of doing this and the way you start off with by saying,”You take the Bible as the question. Then, why the Bible and why not any other system of thought?

You start off with the Scriptures and ask your self the question. Here, there are 66 books by nearly 40 different authors, over 1500 years. There are books on history, there are books on philosophical thinking, there are books on theological thinking and systematic thinking. Now, if the Bible made several assertions, one after another that you found out to be false, either historically or philosophically or in the existential realm, you go further and further and if you see that kind of systemic contradiction and failure, then you have reason to believe that I do not really believe this document. It is not in keeping with the way I am seeing history and reality. But when you look at the Scriptures, and by the way, the Bible is a very distinctive piece of literature to any other religion’s piece of scripture. Any Muslim will tell you that his book, the Koran, is word for word perfect. It is a perfect revelation of Allah in the eye of the Muslim They will affirm that again and again. That’s why no translation of the Koran will ever do justice in their estimation of the Koran, it is the perfect expression of Allah himself as dictated to Muhammad, who recited it. Now the Bible as we know it, does not affirm that ‘verbal perfection’. I actually have a great deal of difficulty with verbal perfection. Are we really saying that no one word would have been better than another word in this volume of material? But when you take the Scriptures disclosed over centuries and over 1500 years, 40 different writers, 66 books- and you see the prophetic scheme all the way to the person of Christ.

Let me give you an example of this: The book of Daniel is written in the late 500’s before Christ, and yet when you study the Book of Daniel, you begin to see the specifics of a fantastic prophecy. He talks about a massive empire that will come into being and how that empire will be divided into 4, and that empire will be led by a strident, strong he-goat from the West who’ll be marching several nations under foot, but shall be suddenly cut off and his empire will be divided into 4. Those 4 then emerge into 2, and those 2 blend into 1. When you take the Book of Daniel, written late 500’s BC and put it ‘pro forma’ unto Alexander the Great’ in the 300’s BC, you see the stridency of Alexander.

Suddenly cut off in his 20’s, 4 kingdoms emerge, given to his 4 generals. Those 4 (Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and Macedon) come into the 2 two empires and that emerged them into the Roman empire. Centuries before- to be so specific in prophecy. You go to the prophecy of  Zechariah , who describes the crucifixion of Christ, ”They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced and weep as a mother weeps for her only sons. You go to the prophecy of Isaiah and see how the Christ is going to suffer. Immediately you see the supernatural.

So, when you take the miraculous element, you take the historical element; you look into the Scriptures and you see there is an authenticity and it all points to one perfect person, the person of Christ.

Bruce Metzger who is a scholar from Princeton, made the comment…he said, “After you take the 20,000 lines of the New Testament, it is safe for any scholar to say there’s at least a 99.6% accuracy. No ancient document, NONE! Has the kind of document support that the Bible has, over 5,000 documents. Even Time magazine in ’88, Richard Ostling made the comment: “One thing we cannot deny the Christians is the documentation that is available throughout the centuries, nothing in literature matches it. Not Homer, not the Gallic Wars of Caesar or whatever.

So when you got this kind of documentation, this kind of accuracy; that kind of person in Jesus Christ, I think you got pretty compelling evidence to see why it is that we need to take Christ very seriously.

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