“‘Rational’ or ‘biological’ values” by C.S. Lewis

“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.”

–C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (New York: HarperCollins, 1944/2001), 41.

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Filed under C.S. Lewis, Quotable Quotes

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