“After Humanity,” a new book from Word on Fire, 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. The philosopher Peter Kreeft calls “After Humanity” “the definitive book on ‘The Abolition of Man,'” and Rowan Williams, the Former Archbishop of Canterbury, notes that Ward’s book “confirms beyond doubt Lewis’s stature as a genuine public intellectual for our own day as well as his.” Word on Fire is bundling “After Humanity” together with a new, originally designed edition of “The Abolition of Man” from HarperOne, so that readers can study both books together.
Lewis’s 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.
“After nearly thirty years of teaching students about ‘The Abolition of Man,’ I relish the opportunity to write a full-length study of Lewis’s increasingly relevant work,” Ward notes. “Although his argument is short, it’s dense and takes a lot of unpacking. I made many new findings in the course of my research, which I’m delighted to share. And as a keen follower of the myriad offerings of Word on Fire, I’m honored that ‘After Humanity’ should be published under their new, stylish Academic imprint.”
Word on Fire Catholic Ministries (wordonfire.org) exists to draw people into the Body of Christ, which is the Church, and thereby give them access to all the gifts that Jesus wants his people to enjoy. To be most effective in this mission, Word on Fire places an emphasis and urgency on the use of contemporary forms of media and innovative communication technologies.