Sunday, August 4, 2013
The 'End' of Man: Education and the Individual, Pt. 2
"Gaius and Titius," he says, are people who hold to their own intellectual, 'in vogue' system of values with "complete uncritical dogmatism." Intellectualism is their religion, so to speak. "Their skepticism 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 skeptical enough. And the phenomenon is very usual. A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional ... 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."
So how does all of this forward-going, value-eschewing intellectualism really end up affecting society, beginning at the earliest stages of education? The question can't be answered without looking into the eyes of the genuine, all-encompassing value system these textbook scholars so slyly attempted to refute.
This melds well into another recurring theme in Lewis' work-- that Satan, common enemy of every man, has no power or authority to create anything, and creation is surely the gift he must envy above all others. He can only take the creations of God in his hands and corrupt them to a purpose that in turn corrupts mankind. Every human vice is but the product of a corrupted virtue. How clever a deceit, then, that the devil can manage to convince God's children that anything he has ever produced is new, novel, or has value above that which God has already given it. How clever to convince us that God had no hand in it at all, and that we are responsible to equalize its imagined venerability and improve upon it-- 'progress' it to something, though we know not what.
"They are not bad men at all. Stepping outside the Tao (traditional values), they have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artefacts [man-made, a spurious experimental result]. Man's final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man."
This series of lectures, I remind you, took place in 1943. This year marks its 70th anniversary. Do you see the fruition of any part of his predictions? Are they really any new revelation, or has he only re-illustrated a societal pattern that has existed since the beginning of time?
I believe this discussion deserves a third part-- inclusion of examples in the scriptures, a spiritual discussion about this 'end of man.' New post to come.