Love and Being in Lewis

In Lewis’ Screwtape Letters we read from the pen of Uncle Screwtape:

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self.  My good is my good and your good is yours.  What one gains another loses.  Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them.  A self does the same.  With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger.  ‘To be’ means ‘to be in competition’.

Now the Enemy’s philosophy is nothing more nor less than one continued attempt to evade this very obvious truth.  He aims at a contradiction.  Things are to be many, yet somehow also one.  The good of one self is to be the good of another.  This impossibility He calls love, and this same monotonous panacea can be detected under all He does and even all He is- or claims to be.  Thus He is not content, even Himself, to be a sheer arithmetical unity; He claims to be three as well as one, in order that this nonsense about Love may find a foothold in His own nature.

~ Letter 18

That Lewis is able to so easily and pastorally interact with Heidegger is impressive in its own right.  That he also manages to bolster Augustine’s concept of the unity of Trinity as love is icing on the cake.

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About Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.

One thought on “Love and Being in Lewis

  1. The more I’m in graduate school the more it seems like thinkers are unable to take this step. Even Foucault will go so far as to say that the -isms of the Enlightenment don’t so much matter as does the construction of ourselves as “autonomous beings.” But he can’t seem to see that the ubiquity of power relations is exactly the result of this construction, which is why he can’t locate the source of this power and can only remark that it happens and reinforces itself. When you come down describing man as wholly subjective you turn even speech into violence. Which if you believe that kinda stuff, it totally is.

    It would seem that autonomous being is really no being at all. This idea is at the core of modernity and as such directly implicated in the gruesome events of the 20th century.

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