On jumping to conclusions

Lewis at the locus
Image by kyz via Flickr

Another commenter wrote that she felt that Lewis was saying that everyone should be Christian.

Is this a feeling, or a thought? Where does this feeling (or thought) come from?

Perhaps Lewis did feel this. How can we prove whether this speculation is correct or not? We cannot go back in the past and look into Lewis’ heart or head to check whether our guess is right or not. What can we do? We have only Lewis’ writing to help us. Does he say this in Chapter 2 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? We must look here to find evidence to prove or disprove our theory. Or perhaps Lewis wrote this in some other book or lecture? If we can find such evidence, we can prove our theory. Without such evidence, our theory is not even a theory, it is a guess, based not on evidence but on our imagination, or our preconception.

Studying literature, as opposed to reading for private pleasure, involves the discipline of training our minds. It assumes an objective reality against which we can check our ideas or guesses or intuitions. In the case of literature, the “objective reality” is the author’s writing. Everything without evidence must be classified as “speculation”.

What does “gentleman” mean? Perhaps we assume that a gentleman is a gentle man. Without evidence, however, this is just speculation, although a reasonable one. Let us check our guess or “feeling” against objective reality. In fact, “gentle” originally meant “highborn, noble”. (Apparently, this is not only a Western idea.)

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4 thoughts on “On jumping to conclusions”

  1. In Japan there are various persons, some are well behaved, some are otherwise. All are not always well educated.
    I know what you wanted to say. Now I am absorbed in reading ‘The Lion ,the Witch and the Wardrobe’, and involved in the supernatural world and characters such as elves, fairies and witches in a very fantastical mood. It’s very nice.

  2. I see what you mean. Since I don’t know what the commenter wrote precisely, I supposed her knowledge about Lewis or report of Lewis’ other work might have influenced her when reading the current our book. All of us could fall into seeing/reading things biased by our knowledge if we are not careful enough, I think. So, as you introduced us the attitude of “new criticism” (as the comment to youe next entry), close and objective reading while focusing on writers’ sentences is important. I understand that is the way you’ve guided us when we’ve been reading excerpts from books. Right?

  3. In our everyday life, we as readers are constantly faced or challenged with various different ideas and opinions. Some catch my attentions and I find agreement, disagreement, or partly so, almost instantly or by examining them. There are times I feel I’m thrown at by the ideas when the impact is immense. So I think I know how the commenter “felt.”

    As I read a little more about him and his works, I’ve come to know Lewis lived on Christian principle without compromise after conversion. Like Ayn Rand, he projected his ideas formidably into his books based on his principle, and I think he just wanted to describe what he believed.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I wanted to say that, there is nothing particularly Christian about the behaviour of any of the characters in chapter 1 or 2. They are all well educated and well behaved. They could be Japanese, or Argentinian, or Arab.

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