Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quotation Of The Day: Lewis Versus Rand Edition

If there ever was any doubt, although none should have existed, C.S. Lewis was a first-rate thinker; Ayn Rand was not. From this Mark Kleiman post:
In general, Rand deserves her followers, while Lewis emphatically does not deserve his. (I can just imagine Lewis’s reaction had he lived to see Ollie North (!) living in a mansion called “Narnia.”) Lewis was a superb writer of persuasive prose (I’d put him in the Orwell class) and, on average, a far clearer and more original thinker than Rand, whose “philosophy” is mostly Nietzsche-and-water. You don’t have to be a Christian to admire the brilliance of Screwtape, or its insight into some aspects of moral psychology and of bureaucratic life.


caheidelberger said...

My first exposure to Lewis came at SDSU, in Junior Comp, in which a prof had us read essays by Lewis and Bertrand Russell side by side, essays on why Lewis was and Bertrand was not Christian. This youthful debate judge was surprised to find himself voting for Lewis.

Troy Jones said...

Kleman missed this one. They both are great writers and thinkers. While Rand has some commonality with Nietzche, Lewis has some themes that are influenced by many great saints including Augustine. Screwtape I think is influenced by Pope Leo (Leo might not be right).

I am sick and tired of the positive attributes "smart, intelligent, etc." applying to people one agrees with and the negative to those we don't.

Kal Lis said...


Your comment about "smart" reminded me of the first paragraph of this Kevin Drum post. You're right that we all should move beyond the smart/dumb dichotomy.

I don't understand the Rand love people have. Her fiction is subpar. For example, I find Scientology more pernicious than Objectivism, but I was able to read and enjoy Hubbard's Battlefield Earth but not Atlas Shrugged. Fountainhead never got finished. (I may have mixed up Rand's works, it was a long time ago.)

I understand that she went after Soviet totalitarianism with a vengeance, and her praise of capitalism resonates with many. Taken to her logical extreme, the world her philosophy would create would be as dystopian as any totalitarian nightmare. In fact, that world would make many assert Hobbes was an optimist.

In the whole post, Kleiman was criticizing Lewis for being too anti-science and hinting that he was too Aristotelian. It came up because people have found books with Rand's margin notes criticizing Lewis in harsh terms.

Kal Lis said...


High praise for Lewis indeed. I've got a book contrasting Lewis and Freud on my to be read pile. Your comment makes me think I need to move it up and be sure I get to it this summer