First and Second Things: C.S.Lewis

It is hard for me to think of a more simple and direct way of seeking the truth, which becomes more and more important the closer one gets to finding it.

“The longer I looked into it the more I came to suspect that I was perceiving a universal law. … The woman who makes a dog the centre her life loses, in the end, not only her human usefulness and dignity but even the proper pleasure of dog-keeping. The man who makes alcohol his chief good loses not only his job but his palate and all power of enjoying the earlier (and only pleasurable) levels of intoxication….Of course this law has been discovered before, but it will stand re-discovery. It may be stated as follows: every preference of a small good to a great, or a partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice was made.”

“Apparently the world is made that way. If Esau really got the pottage in return for his birthright, then Esau was a lucky exception. You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first…. From which it would follow the question, What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first and only truly practical thing is to set about finding out.”

(“First and Second Things.” God in the Dock, emphasis mine)

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