C. S. Lewis, Body and Soul

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.

Attr. (falsely, not to give the end away or anything) to C. S. Lewis.

  1. It might sound like Lewis because he approached Christianity from a Platonist viewpoint. He was in good company, because Platonism was the dominant view (not the only view) for much of the first millenium. St. Augustine was a huge fan of Platonism. But I even before I went looking for the first time (I first saw this fauxtation a few years ago), I was almost certain that it wasn’t Lewis because it’s wrong, very fundamentally wrong. I’m not sure how Platonic-style Christianity handles the body-soul issue, but there is no doubt in Catholic teaching (in most ways Lewis was Catholic-minded) that you are neither soul alone nor body alone but a single being composed of body and soul together.
  2. But, okay, let’s say that Lewis could be wrong (as he was about some things). Wikiquote has it in the Misattributed section of CSL’s page. Here’s what they have to say about it:

    Commonly attributed to Mere Christianity, where it is not found. Earliest reference seems to be an unsourced attribution to George MacDonald in an 1892 issue of the Quaker periodical The British Friend.

  3. A generic Google search turns up countless hits, unsourced of course. Sigh.
  4. Google books turns up countless hits, too, but none from CSL’s actual works, which are (as I found out a few days ago) all there on Google Books to be searched.
  5. Here are a couple of blog posts from people who’ve done the same search. Link one. Link two.  Both of them explain in some detail what’s wrong with the saying, too.
  6. And Lewis wasn’t wrong on this point. In his essay “Priestesses in the Church” (found in God in the Dock), he wrote:

    And as image and apprehension are in organic unity, so, for a Christian, are human body and human soul.

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