<i>The Discarded Image</i> and the Debunked <i>Tao</i>: Objective Value in C.S. Lewis’ Medieval Model and His Critique of Modernity
Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
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AbstractThis paper considers C.S. Lewis&#8217; &#8220;doctrine of objective value&#8221; in two of his major works, <i>The Abolition of Man</i> and <i>The Discarded Image.</i> Lewis uses the Chinese name <i>Tao</i>, albeit with an incomplete understanding of its origins, for the objective worldview. The paper argues that <i>Tao</i>, as an explicit theme of <i>The Abolition of Man</i>, is also a determining undercurrent in <i>The Discarded Image.</i> In the former work, <i>Tao</i> is what Lewis wants to defend and restore against twentieth-century secular ideologies, which Lewis condemns as infected with &#8220;the poison of subjectivism&#8221;. In the latter work, where Lewis presents one of the best accounts of the European medieval model of the Universe, objective value (the <i>Tao</i> in Lewis&#8217; 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&#8217; explication of the <i>Tao</i> in <i>The Abolition of Man</i>, which is a &#8220;built-in&#8221;, implicit belief in <i>The Discarded Image</i>, provides a critique of tendencies towards the subjectivism prevalent in Lewis&#8217; lifetime. These tendencies can be traced into the moral relativism, pluralism and reductionism of the twenty-first century, giving Lewis&#8217; work the status of twentieth-century prophecy.