The Abolition of Man
The Abolition of Man E-mail

Lewis was asked to deliver the Riddell Memorial Lectures in February 1943 at the University of Durham.  His lectures were published later the same year by Oxford University Press under the title The Abolition of Man.  In this book, Lewis mounts his best defense of natural law. 

Lecture 1,”Men without Chests,” examines the moral relativism Lewis found in two English textbooks.  The authors suggest that every statement of value is subjective and therefore unimportant.  By contrast, Lewis contends that there is an objective moral code which transcends time and culture.  

Lewis expands upon this moral code, which he calls “The Tao” or “The Way,” in Lecture 2.

Lecture 3, “The Abolition of Man,” shows what may happen in a world when those in leadership no longer believe in objective truth.

At the conclusion of this book, the reader is left to ponder whether Lewis’s thesis -- written over 70 years – is still relevant today.  Have his fears come to pass?

Other resources:

Arend Smilde offers notes on The Abolition of Man, which track down quotations and allusions which may be less familiar to today’s readers.  He also has a piece showing Ayn Rand’s marginalia on The Abolition of Man.  Most of her comments were on chapter 3.

HarperCollins offers study guides to many of Lewis’s works.  Click on “resources” along the top and then scroll down to Small Group Guides.

The C.S. Lewis Foundation also offers study guides.  Click on “C.S. Lewis” along the top and then “Study Guides to his Works”.