[Milton-L] milton's all

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Thu Sep 20 11:22:55 EDT 2007

Teskey's interpretation of PL 7.168-173 won't work, at least as paraphrased by Machacek. If God withdraws to heaven from some sector of space, then the unqualified claim of divine omnipresence is false. 

What God the Father actually says here, on the contrary, is that space is still NOT EMPTY--he remains omnipresent--EVEN THOUGH HE "RETIRES" HIMSELF. The "retirement" in question is not his departure from a given space, but (as God explicitly glosses "retire" ad loc.) his free choice not to "act"--put forth "goodness" creatively--at a space that he nevertheless continues to occupy. He has not been brought on absurdly to compromise one of his own essential attributes.

Like Plutarch and other ancient writers, Milton is a many-worlds cosmologist. (In his case the multiple worlds are heaven, earth, chaos, and hell.) The  *metacosmia* or intervals between the worlds are precisely parts of the essential substance of God ("I AM WHO fill infinitude") where he practices "retirement" by choosing (so far) not to create. In short, the universe or totality in which the Miltonic worlds are embedded is God himself, not some created matrix-cosmos or "multiverse." 

By virtue of his essential omnipresence, Milton's God is an essentially spatial (or "extended" or "material") being; but this will come as no surprise to readers of CD.

(Incidentally, the "verse" in "universe" is not etymologically a reference to the revolution of the spheres. *Universus-a-um" is an archaic Latin synonym of *omnis* "all"; the point of "versus" is that, to constitute an "all" or totality, many things need to be "turned" into  one collective thing (*uni-*). As a cosmological term, *universum*--"the All" par excellence--is Latin for Gk *to pan.*)

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