C.S. Lewis on the Value of Philosophy

In a letter to his father Albert,

“I have come to think that if I had the mind, I have not the brain and nerves for a life of pure philosophy. A continued search among the abstract roots of things, a perpetual questioning of all that plain men take for granted, a chewing the cud for fifty years over inevitable ignorance and a constant frontier watch on the little tidy lighted conventional world of science and daily life–is this the best life for temperaments such as ours? Is it the way of health or even of sanity? There is a certain type of man, bull necked and self satisfied in his ‘pot bellied equanimity’ who urgently needs that bleak questioning atmosphere. But what is a tonic to the Saxon may be a debauch to us Celts.”

Later in the letter,

“If the air on the heights did not suit me, still I have brought back something of value. It will be a comfort to me all my life to know that the scientist and the materialist have not the last word: that Darwin and Spencer undermining ancestral beliefs stand themselves on a foundation of sand; of gigantic assumptions and irreconcilable contradictions an inch below the surface. It leaves the whole thing rich in possibilities: and if it dashes the shall optimisms it does the same for the shallow pessimisms.”

From Alan Jacobs, The Narnian, 119-120.

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