The Abolition of Man

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The Abolition of Man

Postby Dana Sheets » Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:00 am

"A modern classic that probes the role of education in man's moral development"
by - C.S. Lewis

So I've been reading this book of late between airplane trips up and down the east coast. It is pretty entertaining, a challenging read, and an absolute dressing down by one author of two others that he finds to be more that a little inferior.

There are several very interesting passages and the one in my head right now is:
Our intellect makes us spirits.
Our appetites make us animals.
Reason makes us men.

If you wish to read the book online you can find it transcribed here: ... ition1.htm

Lewis' major point thus far in the text (I'm 1/2 through the second section) is that it is incumbent upon educators to not just teach their own opinions but to impart reason in to the minds of youth. If an educator lacks a clear and fundamental understanding of reason then they will create "men without chests" which is the author's term for people who are only thinkers in the abstract or people who only satisfy their carnal appetites.

This is actually quite close (in my mind) to the age old discussion of the role kata and kihon have in training - as neither kata nor kihon resemble a fight. Without reason then kata and kihon are only empty repetitions.

It is man's reason that allows him to transform what could be only a thoughtless rehearsal into thoughtful practice.

So a student or a teacher who mechanically performs these movements in an academic cloud or performes them without thought in a rage of emotion are completely missing the point of these training tools.

Reason takes the abstract to the concrete in a reflective way that allows for discernment, consideration, and improvement.
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Postby Dana Sheets » Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:03 am

from the end of section 1

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful."
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Postby Stryke » Fri Sep 15, 2006 10:59 am

A man is the measure of his apetites .

Postby Dana Sheets » Sat Sep 16, 2006 12:14 pm

So in the US public schools there was a movement away from character education for a long time - that course has now (thankfully) been reversed and many schools have adopted the "habits of mind" as a springboard format for character education.

The most popular model are "16 Habits of Mind" identified by Costa and Kallick which include:
* Persisting
* Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
* Managing impulsivity
* Gathering data through all senses
* Listening with understanding and empathy
* Creating, imagining, innovating
* Thinking flexibly
* Responding with wonderment and awe
* Thinking about thinking (metacognition)
* Taking responsible risks
* Striving for accuracy
* Finding humor
* Questioning and posing problems
* Thinking interdependently
* Applying past knowledge to new situations
* Remaining open to continuous learning

"Managing Impulsivity" if often looked at very closely as a way to help students regulate their behavior and be better able to learn.

However Lewis' text also is very focused on the fact that teaching a child flawed reasoning is nearly as dangerous as teaching them none.

What he also strongly cautions against is teaching a child that a theory is invalid without teaching a replacement theory that is considered valid AND being sure they understand the difference between the two.

Otherwise, if you only identify to kids what is invalid without giving them a replacement you'll end up with kids that are cynical and skeptical of all things but without a framework they can use to exmaine why they are that way.

And in the dojo it would play out in the way that you tell students that a certain approach isn't valid without offering a replacement approach that is.

Reason must be two-sided. One must be able to clearly reason what is not valid and clearly reason what is.

I know that might seem kind of obvious - but we're living in an age when there's quite a bit of media telling everyone lots of different stuff - and if we don't have good filters in place (a good sense of reasoning) then we're likely to end up with a people (and in the dojo with students) who are quickly swayed by the fad du jour instead of taking new ideas into consideration and then reasoning what is bunk and what is valid.
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Postby Stryke » Sat Sep 16, 2006 10:02 pm

It`s a very interesting proposition Dana , cant say i disagree with any of it .

problem is many in the position to teach have themselves been through this process , and I would be surprised if they had the understanding to teach in this way .

I do agree a neutering of society has gone on , leaving a generation of aimless dispassionate people , who quite often need to fall on more primitive thought and action .

concepts of honour , rational philosophy , courage of exspression .

All things once treasured now sadly lacking .

Postby dejsis » Tue Sep 19, 2006 6:49 pm

Thinking. Now therein lies the rub.
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Postby Stryke » Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:38 am

Thinking. Now therein lies the rub.

Yeah , If I dont think I get in trouble , if I do think I get in bigger trouble .... :lol:

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