Technology, progress, and the human condition in the life and thought of C. S. Lewis

Timothy James Demy, Salve Regina University


This dissertation examines C. S. Lewis's interpretation of technology, progress, and the human condition through an analysis of his life and writings. The thesis of this study is that Lewis understood technology to be an instrument of power that was increasingly used as a tool of manipulation and control in the twentieth century. Lewis's worldview was shaped by experiential, philosophical, literary, and theological sources and each one had a direct influence on his view of technology. Lewis believed that the propensity for using technology in a destructive manner was a result of universal pride and greed in humanity. These character traits resulted from the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Building upon Christian theology as traced through Augustinianism and Anglicanism, Lewis's understanding of progress was bounded by a belief in a cataclysmic end to human history. He did not believe in the inevitability of progress and he feared the abuse of technology and science by small groups of individuals as well as governments. The study focuses on the non-fiction writings of Lewis and demonstrates that much of his thought pertaining to technology stems from his concern that natural law was being abandoned in modern culture. Lewis's strongest defense of the intellectual heritage of the West is found in his books Mere Christianity, The Discarded Image, The Abolition of Man, and his Cambridge University inaugural lecture “ De Descriptione Temporum.” Five specific topics addressed by Lewis in relation to the use of technology are studied. These areas are: medicine and bioethics, government, education, war, and space exploration. On each of these subjects, Lewis argued that technology could be used for the benefit or detriment of individuals and society, but he feared the latter.

Subject Area

Literature|Theology|Philosophy|British and Irish literature

Recommended Citation

Demy, Timothy James, "Technology, progress, and the human condition in the life and thought of C. S. Lewis" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI3146404.