Chapter 1
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The Abolition of Man

Chapter 1

1.  Lewis opens the book by taking to task an upper form (i.e. high school) English textbook.  The authors, whom Lewis has pseudonymously named Gaius and Titius, write:

When the man said This is sublime, he appeared to be making a remark about the waterfall . . . Actually . . . he was not making a remark about the waterfall, but a remark about his own feelings.  What he was saying was really I have feelings associated in my mind with the word “Sublime”, or shortly, I have sublime feelings.

What does sublime mean?

If I say something is sublime, does that mean I am having sublime feelings?

Do you think Lewis is making a mountain out of a molehill?


2.  According to Lewis, students who read The Green Book will come to believe what two propositions?

3.  How would American public education today compare with The Green Book and Lewis’s critique of it?

4.  What possible reasons does Lewis posit for why Gaius and Titius are propagating their philosophy under cover of teaching English?

5.  Upon noting that Gaius and Titius see the world around them swayed by emotional propaganda, Lewis states that his experience as an educator differed. 

For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity.

Which do you think is the bigger problem today: deficiency of just sentiment or over-abundance of false sentiment?


What does Lewis mean by “the task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts”?


6.  Until modern times, what did Lewis contend was true?


7.  What does Lewis mean by “the Tao”?

8.  How does the approach to education differ depending on whether you stand within or without the Tao?

9.  What does Lewis mean by “men without chests”?

How does the chest (or magnanimity or sentiment) mediate between the cerebral part of a person and the visceral part?

Can you think of present day examples of men without chests?

Copyright by Allyson Wieland (2015)