In The Pilgrim’s Regress, C.S. Lewis uses the image of a philosopher-mountain-tyrant holding his victims prisoner with metaphysical arguments as a sort of allegory or parable to illustrate the effect of the zeitgeist on the minds it holds hostage. The mountain has given the prisoners the ability to ‘see through’ themselves and one another (into their internal organs), and bombards them continually with rationalistic sounding arguments, trapping them in a state of materialist despair—i.e. they are hopeless, mortal, ‘pieces of meat.’ The protagonist eventually breaks the spell of the mountain when, after the prisoners receive a meal consisting of milk, the mountain attempts to demoralize them with the observation that milk and dung are equivalent as they are both excretions of a cow. The protagonist realizes that this assertion denies the purpose inherent in the two, and is able to reject the illusions that had trapped him. Eventually, all the prisoners are freed when the tyrannous mountain is slain by Reason, in the form of a female knight-errant.

That’s a pretty trippy—but effective—way of illustrating how the zeitgeist can trap minds with what appear to be logical sounding arguments into a point of view that rejects, or is unable to process, or unable to recognize, important truths that would lead one to very nearly opposite conclusions about a particular topic or situation under consideration. It blinds them to what should otherwise be clear and obvious. The cutting off of certain lines of thought is, in a sense, a matter of ‘self-preservation’ because the conclusions they lead to usually contradict some other aspect of the zeitgeist itself. One may choose to see that as an ‘equilibrating characteristic’ of the zeitgeist that naturally arises and must necessarily exist to stabilize a particular set of attitudes, as otherwise they would either be in a state of turmoil or quickly dismissed altogether as logically contradictory. Alternatively, one might see in this a glimmer of the element of design.

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