Men (and Women) Without Chests

There was an excellent article by Jack Kerwick yesterday on FrontPage Magazine describing how academia is producing men (and women) without chests. You may well know that the phrase is from C.S. Lewis and is entirely apt.

Jonathan Haidt, a liberal and professor at New York University, pulls no punches: “Because of a lack of viewpoint diversity, policies are implemented to promote ends that are sometimes antithetical to free inquiry and the Socratic spirit.”  Haidt knows all too well that of which he speaks.  Continuing, he remarks that his own university has instituted “‘a bias response line’” that “encourages” students to “anonymously report anyone who says anything that offends them.”  Thus, “as a professor, I no longer take risks; I must teach to the most easily offended student in the class. I therefore avoid saying or doing anything provocative.”

Consequently: “My classes are less fun and engaging.”

And as such worth neither the time nor money to attend, which I suspect Professor Haidt would agree with.

Charles Murray, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, is to the point:

The telos of the university is truth.  It cannot have a second telos. There is no such thing as a university that fully supports the search for truth and also pursues a social-justice agenda, for example….

Spot on, there is quite a little more, and you should read it all. It’s been quite a while since I read Lewis’ The Abolition of Man which is where the phrase comes from, and so so quick research was indicated. The very best analysis I found was from The Art of Manliness, which surprised me not at all. It didn’t because The Art of Manliness is one of the best sites for men to learn how to be men, and not the whimpering whingers we see all around us. It’s worth some of your time, if not daily, regularly. Brett and Kate write:

Nearly all religions and philosophical schools, whether Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, or Platonism, Lewis observes, posit that there is an underlying natural order to the world, and Truth is that which most clearly reflects and explains this reality. To uphold this “doctrine of objective value” is to believe that “certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are.”

Lewis feels this perspective is best described by the Chinese concept of Tao:

“It is the reality beyond all predicates . . .  It is Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and time. It is also the Way which every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic and supercosmic progression, conforming all activities to that great exemplar.”

Within the objective reality of Nature, exist people, places, and things which possess an objective value, and are thus deserving of varying levels of esteem and respect:

“until modern times all teachers and even all men believed the universe to be such that certain emotional reactions on our part could be either congruous or incongruous to it — believed, in fact, that objects did not merely receive, but could merit our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt.”

Given that the value of things is objective, then they should elicit certain responses from us. The night sky should elicit a feeling of humility; the story of a courageous warrior should elicit a feeling of veneration; little children should elicit a feeling of delight; a friend’s father’s death should elicit a feeling of empathy; a kind act should elicit a feeling of gratitude.

While the nature of emotional responses is partly visceral and automatic, a man’s sentiments also have to be intentionally educated in order to be congruent — to be more in harmony with Nature. Such training teaches a man to evaluate things as more or less just, true, beautiful, and good, and to proportion his affections as merited. As Lewis notes, this training was considered central to one’s development throughout antiquity:

“St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it. Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. . . . Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful.”

Read all of that too, and if we begin to act accordingly, we will begin to heal our society.

About Neo
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5 Responses to Men (and Women) Without Chests

  1. audremyers says:

    You really need to shake a finger at me, Neo, and scold me into reading CS Lewis. I have his God in the Dock, that I purchased because it was required reading for a church retreat. I hated it. I thought the writing just terrible! ( I know; just shoot me ) I have Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters on audio and loved them but then, I didn’t have to read him, just listen to him (so to speak)

    O, wise one (much bowing and scraping) – recommend a book that is well written and I’ll try again.

    (Oh! I read his trilogy – the one with That Hideous Strength) – and they were awful, too!)

    Obi Wan Kinobee – we need you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      He makes some good points, like he does here but is writing is a bit of a one trick pony, in my opinion. I have a copy of “The abolition of man” and read it 20 years or so ago, I doubt I ever will again. I’ll have to try them on audio, maybe that’ll help. 🙂


  2. the unit says:

    And then of course there are the “posits” of the political parties. Looking for the pony there somewhere. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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