[Milton-L] 'Myth' of "Unfallen" language

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Sun Sep 30 20:42:02 EDT 2007


No, I get the point quite well.  Language, like hammers, is morally
neutral--corruption or incorruption is dependent only upon use.
Language is an object people use rather than an inherent part of
people themselves.  It's this assumption that leads you to draw the
comparison you do to demonstrate how my syllogism "leaks."

But again, you have to use a comparison to an inanimate object, and as
a result the nature of your comparison assumes your premise (that
language is an object people use rather than an inherent part of
people themselves).  The quality of Tubal's hammer is independent of
the quality of Tubal's carpentry, and quite naturally, because the
hammer exists independently of Tubal's skill (note how it doesn't work
the other way around, however -- it is quite possible that Tubal's
carpentry is bad because his hammer is bad).

My initial point was that the premise is false: human language is not
similarly indivisible from the human mind.  If the human mind is
fallen, then the human language proceeding from it is necessarily
fallen.   This answers Carrol Cox's initial question as well.  I don't
think Milton or anyone else who believes in the fall will expect to
find examples of unfallen language anywhere.   So Milton used fallen
language to represent the Divine voice, and probably understood that,
unless he really believed he was taking dictation from God when he was
writing the God parts of Paradise Lost.

At least that'd account for Shakespeare.

Diane McColley's useful references to regeneration also serves my
point: yes, redemption is a third category after pre- and
post-lapsarian, and a very important one to bring up, but redemption
is a -process-.  The pertinent point here, then, is if Milton believed
in human perfectability (in this life), and if he believed he had
attained it...

Jim R

On 9/30/07, Harold Skulsky <hskulsky at email.smith.edu> wrote:
> "Language is an instrument of thought, postlapsarian thought is corrupt, so language is necessarily corrupt."
>
> Forgive me, but the syllogism leaks in several places. Compare: "This hammer is an instrument of Tubal's carpentry. Tubal's carpentry is poor; argal, this hammer cannot fail to be a poor hammer." Part of the trouble is that you have somehow missed my point altogether. My fault, probably. I strongly suspect that, when or if you get my point, you will agree with it.


More information about the Milton-L mailing list