July 07, 2006

Right and Wrong as Clue to the Universe

Danny said... Bob,I am off topic here, but have your read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis? I don't recall you mentioning it before. I read it about 20 years ago, and recently grabbed it off the bookshelf for bathroom reading, and was amazed how closely he dovetails with you. His terms are different, but the first section is titled "Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Universe", and he presents a very compelling arguement that the vertical exists. It could very well be a preamble to your book. 4:33 PM
Assistant Village Idiot said...Mere Christianity, does have a bit to offer this topic. I suggest that Lewis's Abolition of Man or That Hideous Strength have even more. If you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the local chapter meeting for hating and despising other people. 7:58 PM
Into the Wardrobe Forum Index -> Out of the Silent Planet Aside from its sheer humour, I am pretty certain that Lewis is also playing off of an idea he explains in some detail in The Discarded Image (TDI) in the section of chapter III called "C. Statius, Claudian, and the Lady 'Natura'". I wish I could quote the whole section, but it is way too long. The gist of it is that Lewis describes how the medievals made a lot of the personification of Nature, but that, although they got most of their knowledge and ideas from classical sources, the personification of Nature is not very prominent in Classical literature.
He explains that this is because Nature was essentially "everything" to the Classical authours. As he writes: You cannot have the goddess Nature till you have the concept "Nature", and you cannot have the concept until you have begun to abstract. But as long as the concept covers everything, the goddess (who personifies the concept) is necessarily a jejune and inactive deity; for everything is not a subject about which anything of much interest can be said. Lewis says of the medievals, in contrast, that "they believed from the outset that Nature was not everything. She was created. She was not God's highest, much less His only, creature. She had her proper place, below the Moon." Well, there is a lot more I would love to quote, but I will have to pass.
My point here is that I think Lewis is playing on Weston's view of Life that is, to Weston, "everything". And this is why Ransom, who has by this point "transferred" more to the medieval viewpoint, finds it difficult to keep track of who "She" is when Weston refers to Nature as "She". Weston himself cannot even keep it very straight as seen when Oyarsa questions him about what it is exactly that he values in life, and finds that it is neither the form nor the hnau-ness, but only a sort of seed that Weston values -- and even that Weston denies with exasperated comments of "if you can't understand, I can't explain it to you". --Stanley

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