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Book 3, Chapter 10

One chapter per week study of a book that profoundly influenced C. S. Lewis.

Book 3, Chapter 10

Postby magpie » 26 Oct 2005, 20:29

Philosophy now sets out to prove that God's own self is (as prevously indicated in Poem 9) the supreme and highest good. She does this by insisting that we can only judge imperfection if we have a standard of perfection.
It follows that if something is found to be imperfect in its kind, there must necessarily be something of that same kind which is perfect. For without a standard of perfection we cannot judge anything to be imperfect. Nature did not have its origins in the defective and incomplete but in the integral and absolute; it fell from such beginnings to its present meanness and weakness.
Carefully avoiding any discussion of how or why Nature "fell," she quickly asserts that God alone is perfect and hence the First Cause.
And that God is good is demonstrated by reason in such a way as to convince us that He is the perfect good. If He were not, He could not be the ruler of all things; for there would be something better than He, something possessing perfect good, which would seem to be older and greater than He. For all perfect things have been shown to come before less perfect ones.
This argument from temporal sequence, while philosophically common, does to some degree fly in the face of much human experience. The prototype is not superior to the finished product nor the rough draft to the polished manuscript.

Philosophy is on much firmer ground when she shifts her argument to that of causality, insisting that God is both the source of all good and totally unique.
Finally, that which is different from anything cannot be the thing from which it differs; therefore, that which according to its nature differs from the highest good cannot be the highest good. But it is blasphemous to think this about One other than whom, as we know, nothing is greater. And surely there can be nothing better by nature than its source; therefore, I may conclude with certainty that whatever is the source of all things must be, in its substance, the highest good.
Is then the mere fact that Nature is different from God the explanation for its fallen condition? While the "fallenness" of Nature is presupposed, nowhere does Philosophy give a clear definition of exactly what this state entails. She is far more concerned with demonstrating that there can only be one highest good and source of happiness which she has already defined as God.

At this point Philosophy adds an intriguing corollary.
Since men become happy by acquiring happiness, and since happiness is divinity itself, it follows that men become happy by acquiring divinity. For as men become just by acquiring integrity, and wise by acquiring wisdom, so they must in a similar way become gods by acquiring divinity. Thus everyone who is happy is a god and, although it is true that God is one by nature, still there may be many gods by participation.
At first glance this might seem similar to the Eastern Orthodox concept of deification, but on further analysis it is quite different in that it lack the overtly Incarnational frame of reference such as that found in the statement of St. Athanasius: "God became man that we might be made god." Indeed, quite the contrary seems to be the case, for Philosophy suddenly returns to discussing the "lesser goods," arguing that they are all sought only because they are a means to the highest good which is God.
Since, therefore, all things are sought on account of the good, it is the good itself, not the other things, which is desired by everyone. But, as we agreed earlier, all those other things are sought for the sake of happiness; therefore, happiness alone is the object of men's desires. It follows clearly from this that the good and happiness are one and the same thing.
This would imply that the quest for happiness is the quest for God, but also conversely that the way to seek God is to seek happiness.
But we have also proved that God and true happiness are one and the same. We can, therefore, safely conclude that the essence of God is to be found in the good and nowhere else.
This almost seems to provide a justification for the pursuit of the very things which up to this point Philosophy has vigorously discounted. Am I the only person who sees the circular nature of this reasoning?

Poem 10 opens with a rather prolix echo of Matthew 11:28:
Come, all of you who are trapped and bound by the foul chains of that deceiving lust which occupies earth-bound souls. Here you will find rest from your labors, a haven of steady quiet, a refuge from misery.
Somehow in my current harried state of worry over family concerns, I much prefer the biblical version.
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
"Love is the will to extend one's self in order to nurture one's own or another's spiritual growth."
M. Scott Peck

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re: Book 3, Chapter 10

Postby Lark » 16 Nov 2005, 05:37

Magpie,
Sorry this is a little off topic; but as for your poll: I like the concept of discussing a book; I don't have time now to read The Consolation but in the future if the book seems good I would like to get involved. Maybe ask for inputs on what book to do next. One book that comes to my mind that I would like discussed is Theism and Humanism by Balfour; I believe one of the books Lewis cited as shaped him or was it just one of the books that Lewis got a lot of his ideas from. Also, almost any of Lewis non-fiction books I would be interested in reading or rereading and discussing.

If a thread falls in the forest and no body read it, did it make any sense?

Lark
Lark

You are not your own. You have been bought with a price. 1 Cor 6:19,20
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Re: re: Book 3, Chapter 10

Postby magpie » 26 Nov 2005, 16:08

Lark wrote:Magpie,
Sorry this is a little off topic; but as for your poll: I like the concept of discussing a book; I don't have time now to read The Consolation but in the future if the book seems good I would like to get involved. Maybe ask for inputs on what book to do next. One book that comes to my mind that I would like discussed is Theism and Humanism by Balfour; I believe one of the books Lewis cited as shaped him or was it just one of the books that Lewis got a lot of his ideas from. Also, almost any of Lewis non-fiction books I would be interested in reading or rereading and discussing.

If a thread falls in the forest and no body read it, did it make any sense?

Lark


So sorry, but I doubt that I will be beginning any other book study. I inherited this one from someone who is no longer active in the Wardrobe, and have barely enough time right now for it. But the Wardrobe is very democratic. Why don't you start your own and see who is interested?

As for no one reading this thread, someone is reading it, but I just don't know who.
"Love is the will to extend one's self in order to nurture one's own or another's spiritual growth."
M. Scott Peck

Member of the Religious Tolerance Cabal of the Wardrobe
User avatar
magpie
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1096
Joined: Feb 2005
Location: Minnesota


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