C.S. Lewis And Vivisection


Sir, - During the last few weeks of 1998 many tributes were paid to C.S. Lewis (born in 1898) and assessments of his achievements were made both on radio and in newspapers, including The Irish Times. Much was made of his conversion to Christianity, his fine literary criticism, his greatly loved books for children and his deep concern for his fellow humans.

But not once did I hear or read any reference to his compassion for members of species not his own, nor to the vehemence and logic with which he attacked the practice of vivisection in a pamphlet first published in 1947. "The victory of vivisection," Lewis wrote, "marks a great advance in the triumph of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism over the old world of ethical law; a triumph in which we, as well as animals, are already the victims, and of which Dachau and Hiroshima mark the more recent achievements."

Why are Lewis's theology and humanitarianism so elaborately praised, while his writing against vivisection is carefully ignored? Is it because we are afraid he might be right? Is it because the vivisection industry is part of the tiger economy? Is it because we believe it perfectly acceptable to inflict suffering and death on members of other species in the hope of benefit for our own? I await, almost certainly in vain, an answer. - Yours, etc.,

Ruarc Gahan,

Greystones, Co. Wicklow.