The Cinch Review

The Whole Philosophy of Hell

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A good thing of which to take note, I would think.

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. ‘To be’ means ‘ to be in competition’.

That’s C.S. Lewis (or rather, his character, Uncle Screwtape) from his remarkable book, The Screwtape Letters.

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2 thoughts on “The Whole Philosophy of Hell

  1. And yet, God made this world, where "one thing is not another". Indeed, the whole process of creation was dividing one thing from another.

    1. Very true. I think what Lewis is getting at through the character of the demon Uncle Screwtape is that the devil wins when people look at life as a zero-sum game; i.e. that someone else's gain is your loss. As opposed to truly loving one's neighbor as oneself.

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