The Abolition of Man
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947. First edition. Octavo. Original boards with silver titling to spine and dust jacket (not price-clipped, with edge clips to front inside flap). Small tear to head of half-title page verso; minor edgewear to boards; edgewear and rubbing to dust jacket with some spotting to spine (including a faint stain to jacket spine and front panel), else near-fine in very good-plus dust jacket. Item #3
First printing of the first US edition of C. S. Lewis’s (1898–1963) enduring defense of objective value and natural law. Originally delivered as a series of three lectures at King’s College, Newcastle, in February 1943 as part of the Riddle Memorial Lectures, The Abolition of Man was first published in the US in 1947 by The Macmillan Company and has since remained one of the most influential philosophical and religious works of the twentieth century. In the famous opening lecture, “Men Without Chests,” Lewis provides his critical response to the “little book on English” that was then a popular text for upper form students in Britain—the book Lewis would pseudonymously refer to as The Green Book by “Gaius” and “Titius,” and which many believe to be The Control of Language: A Critical Approach to Reading and Writing (1939) by Alexander King and Martin Ketley. Lewis criticizes the authors for subscribing to an emotivism that equates statements of value with statements of mere psychological preference. In the tradition of Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, Lewis instead defends the reality of objective value and describes the harmful consequences to the individual and society of moral and value subjectivism. Lewis then describes a set of objective moral values that have been recognized, with minor variations, across Eastern and Western cultures throughout history—a set of principles that he refers to, collectively, as the “Tao.” Lewis would explore the dystopian principles at work in modernity (those principles that he so famously challenged in The Abolition of Man) in many of his other works, including in his fictional “Space Trilogy” consisting of Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1943), and That Hideous Strength (1945). National Review named The Abolition of Man as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of the twentieth century, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute ranked the book as the second-best book of the last century. A towering and prophetic work of philosophy that remains one of Lewis’s most treasured works of non-fiction, perhaps rivaled only by Mere Christianity (1952). Uncommon in this condition, and increasingly scarce in the trade.