[Milton-L] Perspectivism and Chaos

HANNIBAL HAMLIN hamlin.22 at osu.edu
Mon Sep 24 09:55:14 EDT 2007

No one has yet mentioned what always seemed to me the essential conundrum about Chaos (perhaps because it's too obvious?) -- whether it is or is not within the jurisdiction of the Father.  This connects to the key theological question about Creation, whether it is ex deo or ex nihilo or ex something else.  It then connects further to the similarly vast question of theodicy.  If evil exists, did God create it, is it an unintentional by-product of Creation, is it the creation of Satan, or does it in fact pre-exist Creation?  Positing an independent existence for Chaos (this is why it is very important whether it "is" or not), allows for the possibility that evil is something that predates Creation.  This is a question raised by Genesis too (not just PL), since scholars have noted the vestigial remnants of pre-Judaic divinities and theology in the waters of Gen. 1-3, which seem to be there before the beginning (and are connected to dark, negative, female (!), divinities like Tia
mat).  Of course, if Chaos predates Creation, it may also be that it is outside of the Father or at least outside of his jurisdiction.  This might give hope to the rebel angels that there are places where they can achieve some kind of independence.  Of course, the orthodox view is that there is nothing outside of God, and the sense of Chaos as a place apart is just our misconception (as Satan's).


Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
The Ohio State University
Book Review Editor and Associate Editor, Reformation

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----- Original Message -----
From: Yaakov Mascetti <mascety at mail.biu.ac.il>
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2007 2:30 pm
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Perspectivism and Chaos

> Prof. Cox:
> Certainly Adams has very compelling arguments to make on Chaos. It 
> seems to me, though, that perspectivism is different from 
> neutrality,  
> or partial evil:
> "Chaos is neutral as between good and evil; all he likes is 
> disorder.  
> That inclines him to evil, of course, but not all the way, for 
> evil  
> is itself a principle of order; and chaos is, so to speak, beyond  
> good and evil." (76)
> Chaos is partially evil, but not all the way?
> Adams, like others, judges, labels and fixes a univocal quality of 
> Chaos. It is this, it is that. It seems to me, on the other hand,  
> that what Prof. Fleming wrote was certainly closer to what I wrote 
> in  
> my email: "It simply doesn't matter [to understand what Chaos is]."
> Best regards,
> YM
> On Sep 23, 2007, at 8:06 PM, Carrol Cox wrote:
> > It is worth taking a look at what Robert Adams wrote on chaos in PL:
> >
> > Robert M. Adams, "A Little Look into Chaos," in _Illustrious 
> Evidence:> Approaches to English Literature of the Early 
> Seventeenth Century_,  
> > ed.
> > Earl Miner (Univ. of California P, 1975), pp. 71-89.
> >
> > Carrol
> >
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