[SPAM] Re: [Milton-L] Free Will, Forgiveness

Stephen Fallon fallon.1 at nd.edu
Thu Jul 27 18:56:31 EDT 2006

I don't think that this will work.  I always took 
that "new created world" to mean the newly 
created universe.  And God does not let Satan in 
to heaven to speak with Uriel.  Uriel inhabits 
the sun, itself a part of the "new created 
world."  Satan does see the sun from the stairs, 
but he is not admitted to heaven.

I'm troubled more by the implication that God, 
not to be judged cruel, must do everything he can 
do to prevent our temptation.  To elaborate on 
this, which I lack the time now to do, would 
return us to the recent discussion of the meaning 
of human freedom.  An omnipotent God could have 
prevented the temptation and the fall.  It's not 
clear what in such a world the status of free 
will would be.

Steve Fallon

>As I was driving home from some errands (all 
>appearances to the contrary, I do have a life 
>beyond my computer; a small life, to be sure, 
>but a life nonetheless), I thought that perhaps 
>I should do exactly what Prof. Skulsky asks for, 
>so here goes.
>In Book 3, God rehearsed the past, present, and 
>future. However, closer examination of God's 
>version of events shows that key elements of the 
>story have been omitted. For example, God states:
>And now
>Through all restraint broke loose he wings his way
>Not farr off Heav’n, in the Precincts of light,
>Directly toward the new created World
>(3.86-88; my emphasis).
>According to God, Satan "wings his way . . .  
>directly" toward the new world. Now, according 
>to the OED, "directly" is not one of these words 
>with a multiplicity of meanings. Basically, it 
>means moving "In a straight line of motion; with 
>undeviating course; straight" (def. 1.a.) or 
>"not obliquely" (def. 2). To say that Satan 
>"wings his way / . . . / directly toward the new 
>created World" means that after he has busted 
>out of Hell (problematic in itself, given the 
>ease with which he gets out and the remarkable 
>lack of restraint in Hell), Satan makes a 
>beeline right for earth. Yet that is impossible, 
>for Satan is not winging his way toward earth at 
>all, but toward Heaven. And Satain "wings his 
>way" directly toward "Precincts of light" 
>because--and I cannot stress this enough-- he 
>does not know Earth’s location: “Glad was the 
>Spirit impure as now in hope / To find who might 
>direct his wandring flight / To Paradise the 
>happie seat of Man” (3.63032). It is therefore 
>impossible for Satan to wing “his way / . . . 
>Directly towards the new created World” because 
>the fallen angels he needs someone to tell him 
>the right direction. As everyone knows, that 
>someone will be Uriel, “The sharpest sighted 
>Spirit of all in Heav’n” (3.691). Satan asks 
>Uriel for directions:  “Brightest Seraph tell / 
>In which of all these shining Orbes hath Man/ 
>His fixed seat” (3.666-68), and Uriel, deceived 
>by Satan’s disguise, tells him exactly where to 
>go: “That spot to which I point is Paradise, / 
>Adam’s abode, those loftie shades his Bowre. / 
>Thy way thou canst not miss” (3.733-35).
>So why does God say that Satan is going 
>"directly" to Earth when in fact Satan is going 
>"directly" to Heaven? Because by doing so, God 
>leaves out the fact that Satan fooled Uriel into 
>giving him directions, which raises yet more 
>questions. Why did God not warn Uriel? Who, when 
>Satan showed up at Heaven's gate, lowered the 
>stairs that let Satan in so he could ask Uriel? 
>Does Uriel not bear some responsibility for what 
>will subsequently happen, since without his 
>directions, Satan could not have found  "the 
>happie seat of Man"?
>There's more, but for that, I refer to the 
>reader to Destabilizing Milton as well as the 
>other scholars I mentioned earlier.
>Peter C. Herman
>At 01:50 PM 7/27/2006, you wrote:
>>". . . given the vast amount of evidence . . ."
>>  "I do not want to rehearse arguments already in print."
>>Most of us are not at leisure to dissect a "vast" array of
>>interpretations with the rigor each deserves. Yet absent such a
>>dissection we are left with rodomontade on both sides.
>>It might be a useful exercise to provide Milton-L with a concise
>>version of one or two or three of the most persuasive of such arguments,
>>simply to illustrate the method of argument the author thinks
>>appropriate to proving his case. To serve this purpose, the arguments
>>would have to (1) turn on the interpretation of specific passages, (2)
>>apply unambiguous moral criteria Milton demonstrably shares with his
>>intended audience, (2) establish one of the following theses:
>>(a) Milton intentionally presents his narrator as intentionally
>>presenting the character called "God" as cruel and mendacious by a
>>standard Milton shares with his intended audience;
>>(b) Milton intentionally presents his narrator as inadvertently
>>presenting the character called God, etc.; 
>>(c) Milton inadvertently presents his narrator as intentionally
>>presenting the character called God, etc.,
>>(d) Milton inadvertently presents his narrator as inadvertently, etc.;
>>Remarks: (i) For requirement (2) see the debate between Scalia and
>>Dworkin on the original meaning of "cruel and unusual." (ii) The
>>breakdown of permutations would be very much simplified, of course, if
>>the author-narrator distinction could be dispensed with. (iii) This
>>suggestion is meant to be helpful in facilitating dialogue; emphatically
>>not as declaring an intention to join the dialogue.
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