C.S. Lewis’s Two Ways of Seeing

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I just finished teaching a 10-week class on the Chronicles of Narnia.  And what a class it was!  It was such a great experience that I want to share one of the video lessons with you in this post.

Seven incredible novels, 37 videos, and over ten hours of instruction.  Throw in some enthusiastic students and enough time to prepare the lessons, and I found myself in an ideal teaching situation.

This class covered the Chronicles in depth, analyzing the symbolism, themes, and influences of each of the Narnia books.  But we also learned a lot about C.S. Lewis’s remarkable Christian and refreshingly clear vision of the world.

Over the next few weeks, I want to share some different pieces from this class with you.  In this post, I’ve included a video from the first lesson about the structure of the Narniad.  In this video, I discuss C.S. Lewis’s two ways of seeing, or two ways of knowing:  1) contemplation and 2) enjoyment.

Lewis argued that we can come to know a thing by standing outside of it and looking at it.  We can observe it the way a scientist observes a new species of animal—from a disengaged perspective.

We can also come to know a thing by entering into it, by “looking along” it.  We can observe it the way a lover studies the beloved—from a perspective of full engagement.

The first way of disengaged observation is “contemplation.”  The second way of enthralled study is “enjoyment.”  These two ways of seeing/knowing are important because some things can only be known through “enjoyment”.

Some things—the highest, most important things—can be seen best only through the eyes of love.

And the most important of these things is Christ.  Lewis argues that the truest, deepest knowledge of Christ can only be had “from the inside”, by entering fully into Christ’s being and nature through devoted love.

This video explains all of this in much greater detail, so take a few minutes to watch it through to the end.  If you have any questions when you’re done, ask them in the comments section below.

Enjoy the video!