[Milton-L] Re: Forgiveness, free will, M's God

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Sun Jul 23 23:10:31 EDT 2006

>>My point here is to think about the ethical status of the statement
(to one acting destructively and self-destructively), "Well, >>normally
one of respect for the person to whom it is uttered, though it can be
clothed as such.  Normally, this statement >>serves to distance the
speaker from the erring being, and this is exactly how it functions in
Milton; it amounts to saying, "My >>hands are clean."  It seems to me
that there are many more important things in the moral life than having
technically clean >>hands. 
>>The statement to the wicked/willfully erring that they have, after
all, chosen their actions always signifies a failure of love. 

I wish I had written this. Richard Strier, with his customary
trenchancy, has put his finger on the core of Milton's failure in PL. 

Come to think of it, it's also the failure of a whole crucial strand of
theodicy lasting to the present day. One finds the same self-defeating
"clean hands" strategy in the efforts of Alvin Plantinga to make the
Free Will Argument float; ditto Richard Swinburne (though with
interesting dialectical bells and whistles in both cases).

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