[Milton-L] milton's all

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Sat Sep 22 15:43:03 EDT 2007


Hi, Michael! 

I share your doubt about whether (unlike heaven, hell, and nature [the physical universe]) chaos deserves to be included among Milton's multiple worlds. For one thing, it is the womb of nature--the quarry for the basic raw material of the physical universe. In other words, it's part of that universe in which God puts forth his goodness in an inchoate form; the atoms may be powerless to form objects spontaneously, but they obey dynamic laws that doom them to an endless cycle--unless the Creator intervenes. 

I think this last is the point of what amounts to a thought experiment: Democriitus and his modern epigoni are wrong to think that the natural order results from the chance collisions of elementary particles in the absence of intelligent design. "Swerve" isn't enough to give us galaxies. Atomism (on this view) would be well advised to beef up its explanatory hypothesis with a clause about intelligent design. In short, part of M's literary project is to produce a Christian materialist corrective to Lucretius or Manilius. I can imagine an alternate history in which we had a De rerum natura (in characteristically marvelous Latin) from M's hands.

Cheers,
Harold

>>> Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu> 9/20/2007 3:16 PM >>>
 I'm not sure Chaos ought to be listed in series with the three created places as one
of  four "worlds."




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