In this piece, Lewis discusses the problem of Subjectivism which was sweeping the world at the time he was writing (Subjectivism continues to be a huge part of culture today). He starts by giving the reader a better idea of what he means by the term “Subjectivism.” He says,
It does not believe that value judgments are really judgments at all. They are sentiments, or complexes, or attitudes, produced in a community by the pressure of its environment and its traditions, and differing from one community to another.
He goes on to explain that this idea leads to the dangerous belief that people can create their own moral values, their own right and wrong. He then argues against Subjectivism, showing logically that our idea of new or innovative morals is really just an incomplete version of the “stagnant” (permanent) moral standards we’ve always had, and that general moral standards do not truly vary from one culture to another. Lewis then discusses how Subjectivism is not just a “secular” problem, but that it has also started to spread through the church. He explains that this kind of thinking can only lead us away from God and into ruin.
I found reading this article to be very thought-provoking. It is incredible how relevant what Lewis is saying in this piece still is today. We have become used to the general attitude that we cannot tell another person that what they are doing is wrong and to do so is to be “intolerant” or “judgmental.” I have grown up learning two different messages: one is that of the Christian faith and the other is that of Subjectivism (or Postmodernism). I have seen in TV shows, movies, and other facets of culture, the idea that everyone has their own set of morals which they see as truth. But there is no objective, universal truth; truth is something a person decides on for themselves. We are not to point out a flaw in another person because who are we to say that our sense of right or wrong is any better than the next person’s. As long as we are “good people” and we live the “best” we can, we are alright. Lewis’ argument can be used here to counter the message of Postmodernism. “The Poison of Subjectivism” argues that if no absolute standard of truth actually exists, than who are we to say that a person is “good” or “bad” or living up to their own moral standards? How can we deliver justice in our individual lives and as a nation, when there is no objective definition of justice? And where does our innate sense of justice come from and why does it seem so similar from one person to the next?
Subjectivism is a line of thought which will not disappear from our society any time soon. I’m sure that for the rest of my life, I will be faced with questions and challenges posed by Postmodern thinkers and I will be called upon to explain my own opinion and my own belief in God and objective truth. Reading this piece was helpful in that it logically articulates an argument against this line of thought which I can use to support my opinion in the future.