I am responding to some comments by Ed Cook on the "Anscombe Legend." I think that Lewis did move away from apologetics after the Anscombe exchange and perhaps also partly because of it. Lewis did think that he was not the right man to engage the current philosophical climate, and no doubt the Anscombe exchange, and the Oxford reaction to it, may have helped him reach that conclusion. However, it is also evident from his response to Anscombe in the issue of the Socratic Digest where Anscombe's essay appeared, that he did not consider the argument itself to have been refuted, only his inadequate previous formulation of it.
When Lewis says "She obliterated me as an apologist" I think he means "in the eyes of some particular audience." He doesn't mean that he thought that she had shown his arguments to be bad per se. Some discussion of mine from a paper on the Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy helps in understanding my view.
This passage in my essay on the Anscombe Legend from the Philosophy and the Chronicles of Narnia volume got censored out by the general editor of the series. It should gave gone in just before the first full paragraph on p. 265. Apparently the general editor did not like my Derrida-bashing.
Second, one can come to think that one’s style of argument will fall on deaf ears in a particular intellectual or philosophical climate without thinking that one’s ideas are intellectually bankrupt. Suppose I were to discover tomorrow that the philosophical community of which I am apart has come to be overrun with, say, Derrideans. Derrideanism is a school of thought which, in my estimation, is irrationalist at its core, and which undermines the very possibility of civilized discourse, philosophical or otherwise. In this case I probably would find my way of doing philosophy very poorly suited to persuading most philosophers of much of anything. If I wrote philosophical apologetics prior to the period of Derridean domination but none afterward, it would not necessarily mean I thought the apologetics all wrong. I might decide, rather, that perhaps other people, with a better understanding of Derrideanism, might be better equipped to respond to the lamentable situation in which all my arguments are subjected to Derridean deconstruction instead of evaluated on their intellectual merits.
Lewis seems to have concluded that the new style of doing philosophy prevalent in the Oxford of the time was not conducive to the more classical approach to the discipline he had learned in his undergraduate studies. As the above discussion of Derrideanism indicates, I am not at all sure that this shows that something was wrong with Lewis; it might be that something was wrongheaded about the philosophy of the time.
J. R. Lucas, a distinguished Oxford philosopher who was a student during this period, has described the prevailing mindset of that era as follows:
The philosophical climate in which I grew up in Oxford was one of extreme aridity. The ability not to be convinced was the most powerful part of a young
Philosopher’s armory: a competent tutor could disbelieve any proposition, no matter how true it was, and the more sophisticated could not even understand the
meaning of what was being asserted. In consequence, concern was concentrated
on the basic questions of epistemology almost to the exclusion of other questions
of larger import but less easy to argue in black and white terms. The under-
graduate who wanted to write essays on the meaning of existence was told to confine himself to the logical grammar of ‘is,’ and was not even allowed to ask what truth was, or how one ought to live one’s life.
So if Lewis came to think he could not advance his apologetical arguments to the satisfaction of Oxford philosophers, that would not show his arguments were bad ones. Perhaps the methods of evaluating arguments typically employed by Oxford philosophers during this era, as well as their unduly narrow range of interests, were deficient instead.
The link here is to the Amazon entry on the Philosophy and Narnia volume.