Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I must warn you now that I had a greater difficulty reading “Bulverism” than “Meditation in a Tool Shed.” I don’t know if it was the wording or the change in perspective at the end, but I wasn’t able to take a firm stand and come to a clear point after reading this piece. I will nonetheless pick out a few parts that I found interesting and attempt to discuss their meanings.

Bulverism is the term Lewis uses to describe 20th century thought. He describes it when he says: “…you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly.”

This reading goes along with “Meditation in a Tool Shed” because both discuss the idea of rational thinking. Freudians have discovered that we exist as bundles of complexes and Marxists have discovered that we exist as members of some economic class, but both of these views are ideologically tainted at the source. This brings up the question, are all thoughts tainted? Also, does the taint invalidate the tainted thought-in the sense of making it untrue-or not? If we believe that all thoughts are tainted, then we cannot invalidate other sources of thought, nor can others invalidate our own thoughts. Christianity is thus tainted just as much as Freudianism and Marxism. However, if we say that only some thoughts are tainted we present ourselves with the problem choosing which thoughts are true and which are not.

I like when Lewis says “for Bulverism is a truly democratic game in the sense that all can play it all day long, and that it give no unfair advantage to the small and offensive minority who reason.” He also says that you can only find out rights and wrongs by reasoning, but the forces that discredit reason depend on reasoning. “You must reason even to Bulverize.” Like he said in the previous reading, you cannot make a proof to prove that all proofs are tainted. The proof that all proofs are invalid must be invalid in itself.

Later Lewis says that our values are even affected by social factors. As a sociology major, I learn more about this every day. Our minds are affected by physical events, and our thoughts are conditioned, not caused. I love thinking about why people think they way they do and a lot of it comes down to social factors, not necessarily genetic factors. Even the reason you use to describe the social factors is tainted though.

Basically I am left in the same spot I was before: what are we to do about Bulverism? How can we train ourselves to look at thing and look along things?

1 comment:

  1. I agree this was a harder essay to read partially because of the change in tone at the end which did not seem to follow the thought progression of the first part.
    You asked a question about what to do about Bolverism, I think Lewis, and our class discussion, touches on two ways to help overcome this tendency. The first being to become humble enough to accept that our own beliefs may not be completely accurate. Thus, we open ourselves up to listen to other arguments. Second it is necessary to change why we discuss issues. It should not be our goal to win but rather to discover the truth together.