[Milton-L] help interpret a line

jfleming at sfu.ca jfleming at sfu.ca
Wed Jan 21 16:19:19 EST 2004

I think that you are right -- except in your opening distinction. I suppose my initial point was that the convolutedness of the claim "your fear itself removes the fear" is no argument against its validity. I hold to that view. As you go on to show, against your opening comment, Satan is indeed wrong, but for the simple reason that his premises are faulty. He has not eaten the fruit; he is not a talking snake; it is far from clear that the tree is a test that Eve will pass by cheating; etc. Satan's syllogisms fail. But their failure is a simple failure. It is not reflected, as far as I can tell, in the logical form of "your fear itself removes the fear."  J

On Wed, 21 Jan 2004 16:55:22 -0500 milton-l at koko.richmond.edu wrote:
> I think some previous posters (I cannot recall your names - sorry) are
> on the mark. It is not "faulty logic," but perhaps convoluted
> (serpentine?) logic that rests fragilely on a key assumption:
> =20
> The key to the passage is found in the preceding lines (700-701):
> =20
> God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;
> Not just, not God; not fear'd then, nor obey'd:
> Your fear itself of Death removes the fear.
> =20
> The fact that Eve fears God will punish her  ("Your fear itself")
> removes the fear of Death. Satan claims that her very fear of God proves
> he isn't God (and therefore can't provide this "Death" thing). This
> hinges on his assertion that partaking of the fruit is not a crime. In
> fact, his logic makes it impossible for her to have faith in God and yet
> fear death. If she buys that this is a "petty Trespass" (693) that is
> outshined by her "dauntless virtue" (694), then she has to admit that
> either (1) the True God can't punish her because he can't be unjust, or
> (2)  this "not God" can't punish her simply because he is not God. In a
> sense, Satan is using the tried and true problem of evil against Eve.
> =20
> Can this line of reasoning be argued against? Sure. Eve might have
> questioned the underlying assumption (that this is a "petty Trespass"
> outside the realm of justice to punish for). Or, she might have worried
> that just because the command came from "not God"doesn't mean that being
> can't make good on Its promise to deliver Death.  Eve is sucked in to
> this argument through her vanity. Satan offers her the chance to display
> "dauntless virtue." Besides which, he offers "evidence" that this "God"
> can't deliver Death - he says he ate the fruit and it has not hurt him.
> Far from it. It is this, plus the allure of the Fruit itself that
> ultimately allows his "words replete with guile" to win the day.
> =20
> Just my two cents.
> =20
> Dave Haper
> =20
> =20
> =20
> =20
> Captain David A. Harper
> Assistant Professor, Department of English
> United States Military Academy
> (845) 938-2643
> =20
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gardner Campbell [mailto:gcampbel at mwc.edu]=20
> Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 1:47 PM
> To: milton-l at koko.richmond.edu
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] help interpret a line
> Yes, but isn't this particular line of reasoning suspect because it
> can't be argued against? Satan claims that contrary evidence is actually
> supporting evidence. All evidence is thus supporting evidence. Neatly,
> the very notion of "evidence" vanishes away. An odd thing emerges:
> persuasive nullity.
> =20
> Does every assertion of consistency between underlying principles and
> instances of their application necessarily render all possible
> contradictions invalid? (That's a real question, actually.)
> =20
> Gardner Campbell
> Mary Washington College
> >>> jfleming at sfu.ca 01/21/04 10:35AM >>>
> Is there really anything "poisoned" or "Satanic" about the logic of
> "your fear itself of death removes the fear"? Granted, "bad logic" is
> the sort of thing that we think we are supposed to say about the sorts
> of things that Satan says; but isn't that rather reductive and
> convenient? It seems to me that "your fear itself of death removes the
> fear" is the kind of enthymeme that we quite often employ when trying to
> examine the consistency between underlying principles and instances of
> their application.=20
> J.D. Fleming
> ------------------------
> Dr. James Dougal Fleming,
> Assistant Professor of English,
> Simon Fraser University,
> (604) 291-4713
> Laissez parler les faits.
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Dr. James Dougal Fleming,
Assistant Professor of English,
Simon Fraser University,
(604) 291-4713

Laissez parler les faits.

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