[Milton-L] theodicy and critique
danielso at interchange.ubc.ca
Thu Jul 27 14:19:35 EDT 2006
I appreciate James Fleming's brilliant précis of Leibniz, but I don't
accept that seeing PL as theodicy necessarily imports a Leibnizian
reading or something like the ontological argument for God's existence.
Parenthetically, it's interesting how much of this debate does
rely--consciously or not--on others' writings rather than Milton's, be
it the Romantics', or Pope's (the persistent error of replacing "to
men" with "to man"--ably corrected by Diane McColley), or Michael
Bryson's or C.Q. Drummond's (behind whom Peter Herman thinks he can
take refuge). This phenomenon is apparently world-wide. This day last
week I gave a long lecture on Milton at People's University in Beijing,
focusing heavily on the first invocation as "PL in a nutshell" (most of
my 60 students were from disciplines outside literature). After the
class the few literature students in the class approached me and
declared that, though they had been "taught Milton" before, most of
that teaching had focused on structuralist, post-structuralist, and
other theoretical approaches to PL--but now they felt they were
starting to understand Milton himself. Their comments were undoubtedly
more generous than I deserved, but they did strengthen my conviction
that when purporting to talk about Milton, it's a not a bad idea
actually to talk about Milton.
So, simply, I predicate "theodicy" of PL because of the etymological
symmetry between that one word and the phrase "justify the ways of
God." Furthermore, I do see Milton's theodicy as envisaging the
possibility of a "critique of God" given the presence in the world of
the evil that his creatures must face and try to understand. The
strongest evidence for this view, I think, is the Son's own response to
the scenario--though it turns out to be contrary to both fact and
divine intention--in which God permits the universal triumph of malice:
"So should thy goodness and thy greatness both / Be questioned and
blasphemed without defence."
Milton wrote that.
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Size: 2030 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20060727/437686ea/attachment.bin
More information about the Milton-L