The Poison of Subjectivism

Correct thinking will not make good men of bad ones; but a purely theoretical error may remove ordinary checks to evil and deprive good intentions of their natural support. An error of this sort is abroad at present… I am referring to Subjectivism.

After studying his environment man has begun to study himself. Up to that point, he had assumed his own reason and through it seen all other things. Now, his own reason has become the object: it is as if we took out our eyes to look at them. Thus studied, his own reason appears to him as the epiphenomenon which accompanies chemical or electrical events in a cortex which is itself the by-product of an evolutionary process. His own logic, hitherto the king whom events in all possible worlds must obey, becomes merely subjective. There is no reason for supposing that it yields truth.

CS Lewis, Christian Reflections: The Poison of Subjectivism

This essay by Lewis he develops into The Abolition of Man and into the novel That Hideous Strength, both of which I urge you to read. Here is the crux of the matter. Put Dewey against Lewis and you see the conflict that is determining and will determine the path of our age: will we cast aside civilization and its discontents along with its contents, or will we rediscover the belief in truth that serves as the only tenable foundation for ethics and politics – for the right ordering of soul and society.

Read these essays. I’ll try to find a link to a carrier as soon as I get a chance. Read these texts!!

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2 Responses

  1. Darren,

    Thanks for your reply and for highlighting the importance of definition. That and grammar are the foundations of civilization and they’re the two things Dewey has done most to destroy.

    Welcome to our community!

    PS love your e-mail address.

  2. Jack’s words always cut to the heart of the matter. I’m afraid our society is rather subjective about subjectivism. When terms lose their meaning (as Jack’s example of the word ‘gentleman’ in Mere Christianity) so does the value of any discussion or dialogue around them. The word agnostic no longer means we don’t know (soft) or cannot know (hard) that God exists, but means something quite different: God is there, at a distance, and our own goodness & intelligence will bridge the gap. The great lie (that somehow intelligence is the answer to whether one is good or bad) has been exposed by the dark night of human history. Jack again hits home: “God doesn’t love us because we’re good, He makes us good because He loves us.” Thank you for such a thoughtful blog—I shall spend a great deal of time here and, as always with great humility and eager expectation, continue on as a student-of-life seeking the Kingdom first. -Darren

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