[Milton-L] Reading practices and empiricism & other knowledge sources

carl bellinger bcarlb at comcast.net
Mon Apr 30 13:49:44 EDT 2007

Books,  &  the natural world:  that makes two sources of knowledge for 
mankind; how many others does Milton recognize?

1) books secular (prose & poetry), containing some limited wisdom here and 

2) the Bible, the book inspired by God;

3) the natural world _visible_ (the source blanked out by Milton's 

4) direct inspiration from the Spirit: who, "before all temples, prefers the 
upright heart and pure;"

5) the remnants of wisdom within oneself, by which the ancient authors of 1) 
[books secular] achieved the partial instances of wisdom which they 

Surely there are one or two more? I'd be grateful for help with this; I hope 
it's not too embarrasingly elementary. Do we arrive at a simple, clear total 
for Milton, or does the list trail off into more and more indefinite 

6 ?  the natural world _audible_: the sound of streams flowing;  songs of 
the "wakeful bird"

7 ?  art music, instrumental & vocal: Monteverdi, Henry Lawes

8 ?  the natural world _sensible apart from vision and hearing_, e.g. the 
heat [the "invisible virtue"] of the sun?  "Thee I revisit safe and FEEL thy 
vital sovran lamp..."


9 ???  Prelapsarian Adam had Angels over for tea and instructive chit-chat, 
but would Milton have allowed such a source of knowledge (still) available 
in 17th c. England, as did, perhaps, Mr. John Dee?

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