Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Poison of Subjectivism

Once again C.S. Lewis has managed to deeper than I ever thought possible.  A lot of the things Lewis wrote made little if no sense to me.  It is hard for me to write on something that I only understood bits and pieces of.  To be honest I hardly even knew what subjectivism was at the end of reading the passage.

When Lewis speaks of values, he shows that it impossible to start from scratch with only our own experiences (this is subjectivism).  We always rely on traditional judgment of values.  In this regard C.S. Lewis shows that the questions never end.  When a reformer bases his values on biology, he may say we must act to preserve the species, Lewis can ask why the species must be preserved, then it is answered by falling back on instinct. "We have an instinct to preserve our species." Lewis would answer by saying who told us we had to obey our instincts.  Eventually all questions asked eventually lead to God, who was the beginning of all.  We all know that certain instincts are to be obeyed and others not.  Once again we live according to a preset standard.  We need to remember that the first person to write that standard was God.

I like the way that Lewis presents the problem of attempting to create a subjective value with two points.

“1)The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum.

2)Every attempt to do so consists in arbitrarily selecting some one maxim of traditional morality, isolating it from the rest, and erecting it into an unum necessarium.”

It is impossible to create a new value, because all possible values are already there.  When we try to create a new value we usually just end up setting that value up high than others.

I was very confused on a lot of what C.S. Lewis wrote in The Poison of Subjectivism, and I hope that I was not way off the mark, but it is quite possible that I got everything wrong.  I hope that in the discussion things will be clarified for me.


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