ABOUT the BOOK
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After Humanity is a guide to one of C.S. Lewis’s most widely admired but least accessible works, The Abolition of Man, which originated as a series of lectures on ethics that he delivered during the Second World War.
These lectures tackle the thorny question of whether moral value is objective or not. When we say something is right or wrong, are we recognizing a reality outside ourselves, or merely reporting a subjective sentiment? Lewis addresses the matter from a purely philosophical standpoint, leaving theological matters to one side. He makes a powerful case against subjectivism, issuing an intellectual warning that, in our “post-truth” twenty-first century, has even more relevance than when he originally presented it.
Lewis characterized The Abolition of Man as “almost my favourite among my books,” and his biographer Walter Hooper has called it “an all but indispensable introduction to the entire corpus of Lewisiana.” In After Humanity, Michael Ward sheds much-needed light on this important but difficult work, explaining both its general academic context and the particular circumstances in Lewis’s life that helped give rise to it, including his front-line service in the trenches of the First World War.
After Humanity contains a detailed commentary clarifying the many allusions and quotations scattered throughout Lewis’s argument. It shows how this resolutely philosophical thesis fits in with his other, more explicitly Christian works. It also includes a full-color photo gallery, displaying images of people, places, and documents that relate to The Abolition of Man, among them Lewis’s original “blurb” for the book, which has never before been published.
Publisher: Word on Fire Academic
Release Date: June 23, 2021
Format: Hardcover, cloth with dust jacket, full-color photo gallery
Pages: 253 pages
ABOUT the AUTHOR
MICHAEL WARD, a Catholic priest, is Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. He is the author of the best-selling and award-winning Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis, co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis, and presenter of the BBC television documentary The Narnia Code. On the fiftieth anniversary of Lewis’s death, Michael Ward unveiled a permanent national memorial to him in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, London.
“I’m so pleased about the Abolition of Man, for it is almost my favourite among my books but in general has been almost totally ignored by the public.”
— C.S. Lewis
WHAT PEOPLE are SAYING
C.S. Lewis’s analysis of the anti-human trend of modern Western culture has perhaps even more and sharper pertinence now than when it was written. In this vigorous and widely researched book, one of our leading Lewis scholars helps us see this analysis in its full intellectual context, and confirms beyond doubt Lewis’s stature as a genuine public intellectual for our own day as well as his.
— Rowan Williams
Former Archbishop of Canterbury, author of The Lion’s World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia
Detailed, meticulous research and scholarship has made this the definitive book on The Abolition of Man. This book is to The Abolition of Man what Michael Ward's Planet Narnia is to the Chronicles of Narnia.
— Peter Kreeft
Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, author of C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium: Six Essays on The Abolition of Man
In After Humanity, Michael Ward reminds us that Lewis was a philosopher, gifted in asking the most important questions about the cosmos and our place within it. In exploring Lewis’s philosophical anthropology, Ward is lucid in every sense of the word. He writes in a manner as clear and accessible as it is illuminating. After Humanity deserves (and will reward) a readership as diverse and dedicated as Lewis’s own.
— Rebekah Lamb
Lecturer in Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, University of St. Andrews, author of “'Out of the Shadows': C.S. Lewis on Education” in The Chronicles of Narnia: A Spiritual Journey
A fascinating, invaluable guide, going deep and wide to convey the thought of The Abolition of Man and the world of its author.
— John Finnis
Emeritus Fellow in Law, University College, Oxford, and author of Natural Law and Natural Rights
Michael Ward’s thorough commentary will long remain the essential companion to The Abolition of Man. His exegesis and analysis, including his own insights and the best from other commentators, show how Lewis’s classic still speaks to questions of finding moral principles in our ‘post-truth’ era.
— George Marsden
Emeritus Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, author of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography
Some brilliant books are clear in themselves, but dreadfully obscure to most contemporary readers. C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man is that sort of brilliant book, and Michael Ward has done an enormous service to future generations of teachers, students, and other readers in making what is so extraordinary and important in Lewis’s argument completely transparent.
— J. Budziszewski
Professor of Government and Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin, author of Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics
C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man is one of the most trenchant and prophetic writings of the twentieth century; Michael Ward is perhaps the leading contemporary scholar of Lewis and one of the most perceptive and thoughtful critics of his oeuvre. This splendid book will furnish an indispensable guide to the thought of C.S. Lewis.
— Douglas Hedley
Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, University of Cambridge, author of Coleridge, Philosophy and Religion
After Humanity is a rich feast indeed. I can’t imagine a more thorough, perceptive, and credible introduction to and contextualization of The Abolition of Man. It offers at once an engaging read and a detailed work of reference to which I shall return again and again. Ward’s lightly-worn but prodigious learning offers a powerful case for the importance of Abolition both for Lewis’s own oeuvre and also—in our present “post-truth” turmoil—for what remain the vital issues of moral philosophy. After Humanity is a sterling and significant piece of intellectual history.
— Dennis Danielson
Professor Emeritus of English, University of British Columbia, author of The Tao of Right and Wrong: Rediscovering Humanity’s Moral Foundations
Interview with Michael Ward about After Humanity
5:03 - How did Michael first get into C.S. Lewis' work?
6:57 - What was The Abolition of Man about?
9:53 - Why is The Abolition of Man so important? Why is it still relevant?
13:21 - What inspired your new book, After Humanity?
15:01 - How does Abolition relate to Lewis’s religious writings?
19:33 - What are some important things in Lewis’s personal life that led to his writing of this book?
25:30 - What does Lewis mean by the term “men without chests”?
30:09 - What does Lewis mean by “The Way”?
35:26 - What should readers know about the third and final part of Lewis' book?
39:54 - What has been the impact of The Abolition of Man?
44:36 - What would Lewis think about the term “post-truth”?
49:04 - What was the most fun thing about putting together your book?
51:55 - If Lewis were alive today, would he think his prophecy had been fulfilled, or that it's closer to fulfillment than in his day? Would he issue the same warning now that he did in 1943, and with equal gusto?
TABLE of CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 - Reception
CHAPTER II - Occasion and Context
CHAPTER III - Overview
CHAPTER IV - A Religious Work?
CHAPTER V - Background
CHAPTER VI - Legacy
CHAPTER VII - Commentary and Gloss
- 1) Men Without Chests
- 2) The Way
- 3) The Abolition of Man
CHAPTER VIII - Conclusion
Questions for Discussion