Objective Value

Reading Abolition of Man, and Lewis is blowing my mind with this sentence:

A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

In other words (I think), without Natural Law, all rule, all government, is (unjustified) imposition of one will against unwilling others.

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6 Responses to Objective Value

  1. This being the context you’re reading from?

    We have been trying, like Lear, to have it both ways: to lay down our human prerogative and yet at the same time to retain it. It is impossible. Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own `natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

  2. I think you got it. Outside standard for rule is necessary. Subjective human standards are humanistic which means “The Man” is the ruler and standard: semantically null for value. Right?

  3. RubeRad says:

    Yep that’s the context. And what you said, plus the more practical reason that, if all men don’t have access to “a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike”, there is no reason to expect that the will of the governed coincides at all with the will of the governor. Whose will do you think the governor will rule with?

  4. Right! Boo hoominism (as my Bunky would say). Heinlein was great, but he was missing this immense key. Too bad, too.

  5. RubeRad says:

    Take care, there’s humanism and there’s humanism. It’s one of those words (like “evangelical”) that has sadly been repurposed over the last few hundred years. In a better sense, Calvin was a humanist. And I think, having just read Abolition of Man, that C. S. Lewis, with his very humanity-focused understanding of man, would also embrace that sense of “humanist.” The Abolition of Man could just as well have been titled The De-humaning of Man.

  6. I gotcha. I was booing the hoominism that leads to de-hoominification.

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