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THE GREAT CONVERSATION: The Abolition of Man




I thought I'd start a series called The Great Conversation where I will highlight a book that is edifying and encompasses this quest of truth, goodness, and beauty. My disclaimer is that I am very new to the conversation and there are places you can go and people you can talk to that will have far more wisdom and insight than I. But these works are important in cultivating the mind and soul that we are striving for, so I only offer my level best. I will also list some of these works in the Liberal Arts section of the website, for quick reference.


I just started this book, The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, this past week as a mom's group I'm a part of is reading and discussing it together. Many I know have read and reference Abolition, and it comes highly recommended to me. I've felt very intimidated about reading it solo though, and have avoided the book. This opportunity to read it in community with this particular group is just what I've been waiting for and after reading the first part, we discussed it as a group Thursday night and the book and discussion have greatly affected me. The crux of the book (essay, really) are the problems with modern education. I understand why it's considered an essential in this Classical Education revival.


I am still in the process of reading Abolition and am still formulating and solidifying thoughts and ideas that are no where near communicable at this point. I will, however, share quotes that have profoundly moved me.


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.

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.

The right defense against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving

the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when

he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible

protection against a soft head.



And all the time -- such is the tragic-comedy of our situation--we continue to clamor

for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical

without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive,' or

dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity.' In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the

organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue

and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We

castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

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