[Milton-L] help interpret a line

mdanenichols at joimail.com mdanenichols at joimail.com
Tue Jan 27 22:32:39 EST 2004

Professor Skulsky,  Look at the punctuation between 701 and


----- Original Message Follows -----
> Alan Horn is quite right about at least one thing; the
> time I can well afford to devote to pursuing this
> discussion is long since exhausted. I will content myself
> with one last observation.
> Horn has repeatedly paraphrased my version of the
> Tempter's argument as follows: "The act of eating the
> fruit, rather than prospective evil acts in general,
> will--if it is in fact evil--be "easier shunned" after
> having eaten it." 
> I allowed this contrivance to pass because the central
> issue for me has always been how, in the troublesome 702,
> the speaker can take for granted a logical connection
> between the fear of death and the "removal" of another
> (unspecified) fear. I found it unacceptable to replace
> "death" with "God" so as to produce a reading nearer to
> one's heart's desire; a tendentious reference to
> "metonymy" a la Horn hardly, in my view, improved matters.
> I now think (with thanks to David Harper) that the subject
> of the line is "fear itself" simpliciter, and that the
> rest of the line is an inversion; so that what is getting
> "removed" is indeed the fear of death, as others have
> suggested--no metonymy required. 
> The initial problem (for me) is now dissolved, and
> replaced with the question of how the fact of "fear
> itself" can be said to remove the fear of death. Perhaps
> "fear itself" can mean "fear of God," though this seems to
> me to give "itself" no plausible function beyond
> obfuscation. I will spare Milton-L the solution that
> occurs to me, since time for a follow-up is simply not
> available.
> Horn's reading of my text, however, cannot pass unnoticed
> (see above). It seems to me to betray an approach to
> interpretation that was the original irritant of my
> ill-starred appearance on this thread. Here is what I
> wrote: 
> "How can fear of death eliminate fear of eating a deadly
> meal?  The Tempter has just been saying that the best way
> to SHUN evil--and the evil of death in particular--is to
> learn from the apple how to KNOW
> evil when it presents itself. As the name of the fruit
> indicates, it was
> created precisely with this prophylactic purpose in mind.
> If the Prohibition were seriously intended, it would
> involve Eve in a nasty Catch-22: how can she shun what she
> doesn't yet know? No just God, and hence no one who truly
> was God, would put his creatures in such a bind.
> Eve, if you truly fear death, the apple is the last thing
> you should fear! The fear of death itself removes the
> fear! So go ahead and eat, and learn what really deserves
> to be feared!" (Emphasis added.)
> I ask the candid reader if Horn has (habitually and
> eristically) relied on a remotely fair version of what I
> actually wrote.
> To repeat, I am no longer in a position to defend a
> reading based on a parsing of 702 that now seems to me
> probably mistaken. I would like nothing better than to
> develop a reading to go with the parsing I now favor; I'm
> not sure that it would be the reading now favored by many,
> but it might be.
> _______________________________________________ Milton-L
> mailing list Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
> http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

More information about the Milton-L mailing list