First things


Every preference of a small good to a great, or a partial good to a total good, involves the loss for the small or partial good for which the sacrifice was made. Apparently the world is made that way. If Esau really got the pottage in return for his birthright, then Esau was a lucky exception.

You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question, What things are first? is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone.

To preserve civilization has been the great aim; the collapse of civilization, the great bugbear. Peace, a high standard of life, hygiene, transport, science and amusement - all these, which are what we usually mean by civilization, have been our ends. Perhaps it can't be preserved that way. Perhaps civilization will never be safe until we care for something else more than we care for it.

What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first, and only practical thing, is to set about finding out.

CS Lewis, God in the Dock