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Ayn Rand's Criticism Of C.S. Lewis - In Her Marginalia...Fascinating!

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The political intersection of Ayn Randian libertarians and Evangelical conservatives is a baffling phenomenon for most of us outside the American right. It’s hard to reconcile the C.S. Lewis Institute, but also a C.S. Lewis Foundation.) Lewis’ The Abolition of Man (1943), while ostensibly a text on education, also purports, like Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, to expound the principles of natural law and objective moral value. Rand would have none of it.

Lots of nice links here also:

The C.S. Lewis Foundation comments that Lewis “probably would not have approved of the level of venom, but he probably would not have liked Rand’s philosophy much either.” Another Christian academic has successfully squared an appreciation for both Rand and Lewis, but writes critically of Rand, who “seems to have interpreted Lewis’s book as a Luddite screed against science and technology,” part of her “tendency to caricature her opponents.” Certainly no one ever accused her of subtlety. “It’s pretty clear,” our professor continues, “that when showing students how to engage in scholarly discourse, Ayn Rand should not be the model.” No, indeed, but how she would thrive on the Internet.

Read more at First Things, and download a PDF of the Rand-annotated Lewis excerpts here.

I did not know that this even existed.

http://www.openculture.com/

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As a lifelong reader of both Ayn Rand and C. S. Lewis, I think discussion of Rand's comments on Lewis would be a worthy topic.

However, it would be a mistake to bill this as a clash between objectivism/libertarianism and conservative evangelical Protestantism. Lewis has been embraced by some American evangelicals, but he is by no means what such conservative Christians would like him to be.

He is the rationalist, natural law-revering Christian that every nonbeliever should be able to respect. He also has libertarian political tendencies. Read The Abolition of Man above all, but also Mere Christianity. In addition, his science fiction trilogy starting with Out of the Silent Planet is terrific. Its final volume, That Hideous Strength, is a fabulous satire against state-sponsored science and state bureaucracy.

As an atheistic objectivist, I love his work.

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As a lifelong reader of both Ayn Rand and C. S. Lewis, I think discussion of Rand's comments on Lewis would be a worthy topic.

However, it would be a mistake to bill this as a clash between objectivism/libertarianism and conservative evangelical Protestantism. Lewis has been embraced by some American evangelicals, but he is by no means what such conservative Christians would like him to be.

He is the rationalist, natural law-revering Christian that every nonbeliever should be able to respect. He also has libertarian political tendencies. Read The Abolition of Man above all, but also Mere Christianity. In addition, his science fiction trilogy starting with Out of the Silent Planet is terrific. Its final volume, That Hideous Strength, is a fabulous satire against state-sponsored science and state bureaucracy.

As an atheistic objectivist, I love his work.

As a lifelong reader of both Ayn Rand and C. S. Lewis, I think discussion of Rand's comments on Lewis would be a worthy topic.

However, it would be a mistake to bill this as a clash between objectivism/libertarianism and conservative evangelical Protestantism. Lewis has been embraced by some American evangelicals, but he is by no means what such conservative Christians would like him to be.

He is the rationalist, natural law-revering Christian that every nonbeliever should be able to respect. He also has libertarian political tendencies. Read The Abolition of Man above all, but also Mere Christianity. In addition, his science fiction trilogy starting with Out of the Silent Planet is terrific. Its final volume, That Hideous Strength, is a fabulous satire against state-sponsored science and state bureaucracy.

As an atheistic objectivist, I love his work.

As a lifelong reader of both Ayn Rand and C. S. Lewis, I think discussion of Rand's comments on Lewis would be a worthy topic.

However, it would be a mistake to bill this as a clash between objectivism/libertarianism and conservative evangelical Protestantism. Lewis has been embraced by some American evangelicals, but he is by no means what such conservative Christians would like him to be.

He is the rationalist, natural law-revering Christian that every nonbeliever should be able to respect. He also has libertarian political tendencies. Read The Abolition of Man above all, but also Mere Christianity. In addition, his science fiction trilogy starting with Out of the Silent Planet is terrific. Its final volume, That Hideous Strength, is a fabulous satire against state-sponsored science and state bureaucracy.

As an atheistic objectivist, I love his work.

Robert:

Welcome to OL.

Myself and two (2) other young men started teaching together in our early 20's.

My friend and co-instructor was a huge C.S. Lewis person. Did his MA on his rhetoric.

I am sure you could increase my awareness of his ideas.

Where do you hail from?

A...

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Robert (rgorsch),

Without knowing too much first-hand about the Rand-Lewis connection, I tend to agree with you. This thread has highlighted something I need to correct.

1. I need to become more familiar with C.S. Lewis. I keep seeing references to him pop up and, generally, I avoid him, but I also generally like what I see. That's been a curiosity to me about me. :) I don't recall anything acute that has jumped out at me good or bad, but, so far, I have seen nothing warranting Rand's vituperative comments about him. I think I am going to like his storytelling a lot.

2. I also see I need to read Rand's Marginalia. I have owned a copy of this for years, but for some reason, I never did anything but flip through it without hardly looking.

I just read her marginalia comments about C.S. Lewis at the links in the OP. I lament the need to say the following, but she sounds exactly like the kind of person I don't want to be. I learned that to wallow in so much hatred is physically unhealthy. I say that as a lover of her work.

Michael

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btw - Adam, Open Culture rocks big-time.

Thanks for posting this. I recommend anyone who goes to your Open Culture link bop around that site for a while. At the moment, I'm afraid to go back and follow my own advice because of the time-suck.

:smile:

Michael

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btw - Adam, Open Culture rocks big-time.

Thanks for posting this. I recommend anyone who goes to your Open Culture link bop around that site for a while. At the moment, I'm afraid to go back and follow my own advice because of the time-suck.

:smile:

Michael

Thanks Michael.

I get a daily e-mail from them and I have to also make myself not wander around because of the "time suck."

A...

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I believe the average Objectivish-type could do much worse than spending some time with C.S. Lewis by his fireside.

I have read his works as well as a wonderful biography of him by AN Wilson. One of the most interesting things about Lewis was that he had a potty mouth and would head out to the bars fairly often for a drink and a smoke, even after he was famous for his Christian works.

He was also friends with JRR Tolkein, who read out loud to him and some others one of the LOR books as it was being written. At one point, mid-story, in mid-sentence, after Tolkein introduced a new character, Lewis allegedly interupted and said, "Not another fucking elf!"

I hope this anecdote is true. :laugh:

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"Not another fucking elf!"

I believe that was uttered by one of the other Inklings present in the pub, and not by Lewis. My understanding is that someone definitely said it as Tolkien read or began to read.

RG

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To Adam and Stuart and PDS:

Yes, Lewis was a man to go out and smoke and drink with his pals at a pub. He was also a brilliant thinker and when he wrote about Christianity--my favorite books to cite are Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man--I had to say, well, I don't believe this stuff but I have got to respect the rationality of this guy.

As it happens, Lewis and I share a profession. We have both been professors of English, specializing in Medieval and Renaissance British literature, for our entire careers. He wrote brilliant books about intellectual history from antiquity to the Renaissance and about literature in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We also share an interest in science fiction. Lewis was one of the first--I think he was the first--British academic of note to write in defense of science fiction as a genre.

Born a couple of generations after Lewis, I grew up a reader of science fiction, especially Andre Norton, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, and a reader of Ayn Rand. And eventually I discovered C S. Lewis and became an English major most likely as part of the same general process. And here I am forty years later. I teach English at Saint Mary's College of California, Moraga, near San Francisco.

I hope others will be interested in discussing Rand's response to Lewis. Ironically, if I had been interested in sharing Lewis with Rand myself, I probably would have given her this book, hoping that she would respond to the ideas, fundamental to this book, that values are objective and that there is a natural law.

Best, RG

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Born a couple of generations after Lewis, I grew up a reader of science fiction, especially Andre Norton, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, and a reader of Ayn Rand. And eventually I discovered C S. Lewis and became an English major most likely as part of the same general process. And here I am forty years later. I teach English at Saint Mary's College of California, Moraga, near San Francisco.

I hope others will be interested in discussing Rand's response to Lewis. Ironically, if I had been interested in sharing Lewis with Rand myself, I probably would have given her this book, hoping that she would respond to the ideas, fundamental to this book, that values are objective and that there is a natural law.

Robert:

Without throwing non-western Hindu/Buddhist/Taoist thought into this question...

Did you do something in a prior existence to justify being at one of the lowest levels of Hell?

A teacher of English[a second language in California, soon to be extinct], at Saint Mary's College of California[apparently a Christian College/University, soon to be declared illegal in California] and near San Francisco[you poor soul].

sarcasm.gif

Again, welcome to OL.

A...

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"Not another fucking elf!"

I believe that was uttered by one of the other Inklings present in the pub, and not by Lewis. My understanding is that someone definitely said it as Tolkien read or began to read.

RG

RG:

If someone didn't say it, they should have. :laugh:

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Robert:

Are you familiar with this characterization of C.S.?

Within a few weeks of the change of power, Churchill’s office sent a letter to C. S. Lewis, inviting him to receive the honorary title “Commander of the British Empire.” One can only guess what Lewis thought when he first read the letter, but one suspects that he appreciated it.1

Despite his appreciation, however, Lewis declined the proposed honor. He wrote back to Churchill’s secretary that he was grateful for the recognition, but he worried about the political repercussions: “There are always knaves who say, and fools who believe, that my religious writings are all covert anti-Leftist propaganda, and my appearance in the Honours List wd. of course strengthen their hands. It is therefore better that I shd. not appear there.”2 The letter is characteristic of Lewis, for it shows how diligently he tried to steer clear of partisan entanglements. He was never a party hack like John Milton; he never founded a political movement like G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc; he even shunned giving money to political causes. Prior to World War II, one of Lewis’s students informed him of his work on behalf of the Communist-backed loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. Lewis quickly told the student that he had a rule about not donating money “to anything that had a directly political implication.”3 After the War, Lewis continued to keep his distance from politics. According to stepson David Gresham, Lewis was skeptical of politicians and not really interested in current events.4

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1566

A...

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To Adam and Stuart and PDS:

Yes, Lewis was a man to go out and smoke and drink with his pals at a pub. He was also a brilliant thinker and when he wrote about Christianity--my favorite books to cite are Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man--I had to say, well, I don't believe this stuff but I have got to respect the rationality of this guy.

As it happens, Lewis and I share a profession. We have both been professors of English, specializing in Medieval and Renaissance British literature, for our entire careers. He wrote brilliant books about intellectual history from antiquity to the Renaissance and about literature in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We also share an interest in science fiction. Lewis was one of the first--I think he was the first--British academic of note to write in defense of science fiction as a genre.

Born a couple of generations after Lewis, I grew up a reader of science fiction, especially Andre Norton, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, and a reader of Ayn Rand. And eventually I discovered C S. Lewis and became an English major most likely as part of the same general process. And here I am forty years later. I teach English at Saint Mary's College of California, Moraga, near San Francisco.

I hope others will be interested in discussing Rand's response to Lewis. Ironically, if I had been interested in sharing Lewis with Rand myself, I probably would have given her this book, hoping that she would respond to the ideas, fundamental to this book, that values are objective and that there is a natural law.

Best, RG

My Mother's Ph.D. dissertation was entitled The Theatre of the English Pageant Wagons, With Particular Attention to the Cycle Plays of Chester and York. (Ruth Brant Gaede, Brandeis University, 1970) I've got a bunch of copies, free for the asking. Heh.

(I'm in awe of the fact that nearly 600 pages had to be typed by an expert, no mistakes allowed. In those days you had to hit each key with the same force regardless of the finger. The typist seems to have been the sister of Penny Chenery who became famous as the owner of the great race horse Secretariat. As soon as her father died she decamped Tucson and went back to the Blue Grass country. Her name must have been Margaret Chenery.

(Today you hit the "PRINT" button.)

I'm going to mail them to several university libraries this fall.

--Brant

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Stuart?

Dayaamm!

:smile:

Michael[/

\9

Something wrong with Stuarts all of a sudden bro.?

Hypersensitively,

Carol

OK ....

Where the hell is my OL Intellectual Thread Award?

This OL member could not resist making an appearance!

A...

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Stuart?

Dayaamm!

:smile:

Michael[/

\9

Something wrong with Stuarts all of a sudden bro.?

Hypersensitively,

Carol

OK ....

Where the hell is my OL Intellectual Thread Award?

This OL member could not resist making an appearance!

A...

Intellectual? We don't need no stinkin' intellectuals!

--Hombre Americanos

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My favorite film is based on part of the life of C. S. Lewis.

Michael,

Rand’s marginalia reproduced in Prof. Mayhew’s book, on text of Lewis and others, are a delight to me in spirit and content. I often agree. Before turning such impressions and verdicts into essays for publication, one has to check one’s comprehension (which Rand did not always do). Some of my own marginalia in works of Rand have the same exclamation-point mood as her marginalia. (“Ha!” “Wanna bet?”) She’s writing for herself in the margins, of course, but I expect it gives a window into what was going on also in sessions with Rand in which she would take a first look into a book such as Reichenbach’s The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, which Barbara Branden had brought along one evening; both Barbara and Nathaniel came away struck at how much Rand had surmised of what would come later in the book, after the first three pages she had read on the spot.

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Rand had surmised of what would come later in the book, after the first three pages she had read on the spot.

Brilliant mind.

I had a graduate professor who the Department recruited from the mid-west.

He was an Aristotelian scholar and he could carry the intellectual load.

At the end of the first two (2) hours of excellent instruction, as he said goodnight to the 10 of us, he stopped us and asked us whether the only knowledge that Dr.________ ever knew of him, would be discoverable by our notes of what he just spent two (2) hours explaining about Aristotle.

Pretty much what we have to work with one of the greatest minds in my knowledge of history.

Made a real impression on me.

A...

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Sorry, Michael Stuart Kelly, for mangling your moniker.

To Adam: I think I have encountered that quotation about Lewis and partisanship before. Yes, I think it fits my impression of Lewis overall. He did not want to engage much in or be perceived to be engaging in partisan politics. But I do think conservatives perceived him as sympathetic, and he was very suspicious of statism and other threats to an old-fashioned ideal of liberty. Apropos of this, I think as a Christian he did not want to be perceived as and didn't identify himself as anything but just "a Christian," neither very low-church nor very high-church, to use the English terminology. Within the realm of Christianity, he didn't want to be or be perceived to be partisan. Hence, the idea of "mere Christianity."

To Adam: Actually my Catholic college in California is not a rung of hell. "English" is a flourishing major these days, with plenty of Asian and Latino students eagerly studying British and American Literature. Go figure.

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To Adam: Actually my Catholic college in California is not a rung of hell. "English" is a flourishing major these days, with plenty of Asian and Latino students eagerly studying British and American Literature. Go figure.

Thanks. That is good news...

A...

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