Monday, February 06, 2006

Closed Minds on Campus: CS Lewis "Lewis's statements concerning the purpose of the Oxford University Socratic Club, of which he was the president from 1942 to 1954, shed additional light on his involvement in the apologetic enterprise.

'In any fairly large and talkative community such as a university,' he explained, 'there is always the danger that those who think alike should gravitate together into coteries where they will henceforth encounter opposition only in the emasculated form of rumour that the outsiders say thus and thus. The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility. Each group hears not the best, but the worst, that the other groups can say.'

Lewis perceived that each side misunderstood the other's position because the two sides never had a truly honest encounter with each other."
Clearly Lewis lived before the advent of Hate Speech Codes and politically correct "sensitivity". As noted in the post preceding this one, Harvard is so unaccustomed to debate that faculty nearly swoon when confronted by opinions that differ from their own.

Lewis is prophetic, describing the general feel of academia in our time: "The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility."


staralfur said...

Reading that quote I was slightly inspired. Lewis' words can also be loosely applied in a diffrent context. With that of the events occuring in the world today.
It could be speculated that the state of the world has reverted to something much like what C.S. is describing in that statement. With the great division of religions today all that needed to be said in the past is that Islam has proclaimed a Jihad. Other relgions 'never had a truly honest encounter' with Islam to venture further into the issue in the hopes of understanding the dynamics of a holy war. Therefore there is much the general public does not see nor understand about the state of the world or the events within it. I suppose what I am trying to say is that the basic idea Lewis was relating applies heavily to the state of modern society. And more specifically to those who believe they are in the 'know.' We have take defensive stances in North America. So has the Middle East and now every Muslim in the world has raised their fists in opposition. And still neither side has really had a truly honest encounter with each other...we're satisfied to know what we think we know and act upon it. It might be mans biggest flaw...ignorance.
(There's the slight possibility that I was already on a warpath and happened upon that quote and then took it totally out of context. If that is the case I apologize for my rambling!)

McRyanMac said...


I think the average religous student on a secular campus is far more familiar with opposing views than secular faculty, cloistered in an illusory world of tenured control of all they survey.

Similarly, the average American is far more familiar with Islam and the world in general than the average Muslim in say, Syria or Saudi Arabia. The reason is simple: Free Press.

The analogy holds. Most college campuses resemble a police state with hate speech rules and codes of conduct that make open debate a fearful proposition. The more enmeshed in campus culture a person becomes, the more likely that they will live in the safe and boring world of censorship.

Interesting Stuff