This paper considers C.S. Lewis’ “doctrine of objective value” in two of his major works, The Abolition of Man
and The Discarded Image.
Lewis uses the Chinese name Tao
, albeit with an incomplete understanding of its origins, for the objective worldview. The paper argues that Tao
, as an explicit theme of The Abolition of Man
, is also a determining undercurrent in The Discarded Image.
In the former work, Tao
is what Lewis wants to defend and restore against twentieth-century secular ideologies, which Lewis condemns as infected with “the poison of subjectivism”. In the latter work, where Lewis presents one of the best accounts of the European medieval model of the Universe, objective value (the Tao
in Lewis’ argument) underlies both how the model has been shaped, and how Lewis, as a medievalist, accounts for and draws upon it as an intellectual and spiritual resource. The purpose of this parallel study is to show that Lewis’ explication of the Tao
in The Abolition of Man
, which is a “built-in”, implicit belief in The Discarded Image
, provides a critique of tendencies towards the subjectivism prevalent in Lewis’ lifetime. These tendencies can be traced into the moral relativism, pluralism and reductionism of the twenty-first century, giving Lewis’ work the status of twentieth-century prophecy.
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