Common Reading

Brief Glossary

Below is a brief list of potentially unfamiliar phrases and words in The Abolition of Man.

  • Bacon was one of the initiators of the scientific revolution who wrote that nature should be forced to yield its secrets.
  • Baconian theory refers to the idea that the plays of Shakespeare were written by someone else.
  • Bathetic is writing that confuses the sublime with the superficial.
  • Bimetallism refers to the use of two metals such as silver and gold as the basis for a stable coinage.
  • Burber was a philosopher who used the concept of I-Thou to discuss fully authentic human relationships.
  • Clotho was the one of the three Fates of Greek mythology who wove the fabric of life.
  • Cuor gentil is a noble heart.
  • Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori means it is a sweet and appropriate to die for one’s country.
  • Elementary text-books for Lewis are basic high school level books to us.
  • Experimentum crucis is a crucial experiment, one that decisively tests a theory.
  • Factitious means contrived or artificial.
  • Faustus was a magician in Renaissance legend.
  • Ferum victorem cepit means that the vanquished are actually the victors, in this case nature.
  • H. C. F. is the highest common factor or what we refer to as the “lowest common denominator.”
  • Humani nihil a me alienum puto means nothing common to man is strange to me.
  • Inter alia is among other things.
  • Magnanimity is generosity.
  • Margate was a popular resort for Londoners in the south of England.
  • Nietzschean ethics is the view that the ends justify the means or that might makes right.
  • Obiter dicta are passing remarks or mere opinions.
  • Olaf Stapledon was a famous science fiction writer.
  • Ordinate as Lewis uses it means balanced, rightly-proportioned, and/or well-adjusted.
  • Ordo amoris is rightly ordered love; that is, a love characterized by balance and right proportion.
  • Petitio, short for petitio principii, is the logical fallacy of begging the question.
  • Pons asinorum is Latin for bridge of asses, referring o the fifth proposition of the first book of Euclid’s geometry, which is the first thing beginners in the subject have difficulty “getting over.”
  • Rapprochement is a reconciliation or reaching harmony, agreement.
  • Secundum literam means literally true.
  • Sic volo, sic jubeo means thus I wish, so thus I command.
  • Sui generis means constituting a singular class by itself; that is, one of a kind.
  • Tellurian biology is the biology of life on planet Earth.
  • Upper forms of schools are closest to what Americans call high school.
  • Ule is raw material.
  • Venal is unscrupulous, corrupt, mercenary.
  • Wireless is of course a radio.