Saturday, November 02, 2013

Ayn Rand and CS Lewis

Ben sends along a First Things article about the marginalia in Rand's copy of CS Lewis's The Abolition of Man. The thing I notice is that she does not actually understand what he wrote.  She writes some pretty good refutations of things he didn't say.

Lewis wrote elsewhere that it is very difficult to attend to and fully understand opinions one is in disagreement with.  We choose sides and spend our time preparing arguments against the pieces we don't like, rather than striving to gain some wisdom from the portion, however small, that is correct.  I think intelligent people are worse at this.  They generally like to quickly understand the main points and see how that fits in to what they already know. That is usually the most useful strategy for listening to reading anyone.  But it has its costs.

The Abolition of Man was on many of the best-of-the-20thC lists that came out late 1999 (should have been late 2000). Even if one disagrees that the trend Lewis deplores was evil, one has to give him credit for accurately predicting where education did in fact go in the 1970's-90's. A prophetic book.


Jim Cambias said...

Rand does not come off well at all in those comments. She's not giving CSL a very attentive reading, she's spouting cheap playground insults, and she seems to be deliberately avoiding any understanding of Lewis's main points.

Dubbahdee said...

"Men without chests."

The zeitgeist in 3 words.