The creation of “Bulverism” by C. S. Lewis is not only applicable in his 20th century, but can be found as a parasite in our society and culture. Bulverism taints our ideas, the ways we look at others and their differences from ourselves. In short, C. S. Lewis defines Bulverism as “to assume without discussion that he (the supposed enemy) is wrong and then distract his attention from this by busily explaining how he became to be so silly.” Lewis finds this bug of Bulverism creeping into religion, politics, morality, etc. There is no place too small for the bug to infiltrate; all it simply needs is the pride of man and pretentious nature of autonomy and individualism to make its home.
I believe that by bringing into the light this chronic illness of Bulverism, C. S. Lewis is addressing again the relativism he exposed in the first essay we read, “Meditation in a Toolshed.” Each man creates his own argument that is perfectly true in his own mind. He sees simply by looking through only his light. Instead of mirroring his Creator and absolute truth, man attempts to paint a false image on himself for how things should be according to his prefabricated beliefs. C. S. Lewis displays the influence of worldviews in our lives and especially our arguments. The ways we reason, logic, and argue are all affected by our personal beliefs which we hold intrinsically to our existence and person.
When an individual enters an argument with another individual, he arrives with presuppositions and prefabricated ideas as to who and what is right and who and what is wrong. Even before the argument, the individual’s mind is tainted by this worldview he holds, perhaps fatally preventing reason from being carried out. An individual balances on a teetering scale of two extremes, either blinding himself on one side by his worldview and going into autopilot or presenting himself as a doormat open to the disposal of all ideas offered by the world and others. The trick is maintaining one’s balance on the teeter totter, neither locking oneself away on the inside nor exposing oneself to everything on the outside. As in C. S. Lewis’s “Meditations in a Toolshed,” the source of light and truth must be found.
In the end, results the question asking, “How does man then find this Truth?” C. S. Lewis presents two possibilities to this predicament. Either one can assume that all thoughts are tainted at the source or that even if all thoughts are tainted, does their tainted nature make them invalid. If thoughts can be categorized as both tainted and untainted, true and false, who is to be the one to ultimately decide which is which? By what standard can we judge man’s thoughts? C. S. Lewis subtly shows the need for an essential absolute truth. Bulverism is a sort of distorted absolute truth, based on the false pretense that from the very beginning, it is true and right itself without any reason or fundamental rational. Man must open up his mind and humble himself to the possibility of a Truth beyond himself. He must lay aside his autonomous and stubborn spirit, the pride which blinds his eyes. Just as Bulverism can dim a society and culture, the very opposite can illuminate a people and build its foundations.
To conclude, reason, the counter of Bulverism, is so dangerous because it brings Truth. In C. S. Lewis’s book, The Screwtape Letters, the senior devil warns the junior devil to not muddle or mess with reason for it is found in the enemy’s territory, God’s truth. When we dare to remove our own masks of assumed truth, we open up the doors for reason to shine its pure, radiant light. We begin to mirror the source of light which brings us truth. Thus, results discernment, identifying the truth in human thoughts, no matter how tainted.