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Lewis and Boethius

Lewis and Boethius

Postby bingley » 14 Aug 2007, 03:16

I have this vague memory of CS Lewis saying somewhere that when commenting on a philosopher or theologian scholars trace influences and elucidate references but avoid all discussion of whether what the author says is actually true. The example Lewis gave was scholars writing about Boethius. I thought it was in The Screwtape Letters but a quick flick through my copy doesn't reveal it. Does anybody know where the passage actually is?
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Postby A#minor » 14 Aug 2007, 13:57

I used the Search Inside feature on a collection of Lewis books at Amazon and couldn't find any reference at all to Boethius. You could try searching yourself using other keywords. Hope you find it!

Look Here to search inside The Complete Lewis
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Postby loeee » 14 Aug 2007, 16:17

I think it is one of the essays in God in the Dock (or The World's Last Night, or maybe The Weight of Glory?) It is the one where he is discussing literary criticism. (I think, but Sven could probably give you the essay title, which paragraph, and the page number for each of the various editions.)

There is a bit in Screwtape where Screwtape mentions the advances they have made with people, that they don't ask anymore whether a philosophy is true, but only whether it is "strong" or "modern" or whatever. He doesn't mention Boethius, though.
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Postby Sven » 15 Aug 2007, 21:09

I'll have to get back to you later on this one, Bingley. The problem is that the statement as you remember it could be a paraphrase from almost any of the articles or books Lewis wrote about literary criticism, literary theory, or Biblical criticism. If there is an exact quote that matches your memory, I can't think of it at the moment. When I get some time, I'll look in some of the places it might be.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Postby ABC » 12 Sep 2007, 16:37

Hi Bingley!

I do remember reading the passage you're describing. I'm not at all sure about this - and I don't have the book with me to check - but I'm wondering if it could be in the chapter on Boethius in "The Discarded Image"?
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Postby bingley » 12 Sep 2007, 23:23

Hmm. I don't think I've read that one, so unless it was quoted elsewhere it couldn't have been the one I'm thinking of.
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Postby bingley » 12 Sep 2007, 23:23

Hmm. I don't think I've read that one, so unless it was quoted elsewhere it couldn't have been the one I'm thinking of. Thanks for the suggestion, though.
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Postby bingley » 29 Sep 2007, 04:44

Found it! The passage I was thinking of is in Letter No. 27 in Screwtape. I found it while I was looking for something else (of course!).

It may be replied that some meddlesome human writer, notably Boethius, have let this secret out. But in the intellectual climate which have at last succeeded in producing throughout Western Europe, you needn't bother about that. Only the learned read old books and we have now so dealt with the learned that they are of all men the least likely to acquire wisdom by doing so. We have done this by inculcating the Historical Point of View. The Historical Point of View, put briefly, means that when a learned man is presented with any statement in an ancient author, the one question he never asks is whether it is true. He asks who influenced the ancient writer, and how far the statement is consistent with what he said in other books, and what phase in the writer's development, or in the general history of thought, it illustrates, and how it affected later writers, and how often it has been misunderstood (specially by the learned man's own colleagues) and what the general course of criticism on it has been for the last ten years, and what is the 'present state of the question'. To regard the ancient writer as a possible source of knowledge -- to anticipate that what he said could possibly modify your thoughts or your behaviour -- this would be rejected as unutterably simple-minded.
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