[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Alice Crawford Berghof aberghof at uci.edu
Tue Jul 1 15:19:10 EDT 2008

The crisis halfway through the Confessions (translated in the lit as 
"Whence this monster?" "Whence this portent?" - see Kenneth Burke on 
this, also), the repeated discussion of the problem of asking about 
source of evil in City of God, and the discussion of the topic in late 
works - The Spirit and the Letter, for example - are useful as well as 
Albrecht Dihle's The Theory of Will in Classical Antiquity, the latter 
coalescing with Harold Skulsky's posting, perhaps adding a few stages 
and terms.  My questions: in a syllogism in PL, whence the origin of 
the logical as opposed to passionate intention to transgress?

On Jul 1, 2008, at 11:47 AM, Tony Demarest wrote:

> This smells of orthodoxy- I remember when one of our Jesuit religion 
> teachers in high school explained to us the distinction between sins 
> of thought and desire and act- concupiscence-  The "near occasion of 
> sin"-I believe it was- when one needs to cross town and takes 42nd 
> street rather than 43rd. NYC obviously. And if anyone can remember 
> better than I- is Paul the source of this notion? Augustine?
> Tony
> ----------------------------------------
>> From: jwatt at butler.edu
>> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>> Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2008 13:06:19 -0400
>> Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)
>> Dear Carol:
>> The joy in all this is not whether Eve or Adam (or both!) are 
>> 'responsible' for our situation.  Or whether they sin before they 
>> partake of the fruit.  It's that the agency responsible for existence 
>> itself is so generous that it has given us a poet, John Milton, who, 
>> confronted with an origin myth had the great good sense to remake it 
>> after his own best and honest effort and who, after having managed 
>> the task breathtakingly turned to the even more profound myth at the 
>> root of all our discussions, that of the embodiment of the divine in 
>> all its grief and happiness.  Not surprisingly most folks believe the 
>> Regaining of Paradise to be a lesser achievement than the 'Loss' of 
>> it!  Oh well, there must be a reason for it, but, for me at least it 
>> is an unconvincing argument that the poet of P.R. was operating at a 
>> less exalted level.
>> Jim Watt
>> ________________________________________
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu 
>> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Carol Barton 
>> [cbartonphd1 at verizon.net]
>> Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 7:54 PM
>> To: John Milton Discussion List
>> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)
>> Michael, I think the distinction is between actually sinning, and 
>> engaging in behavior that is likely to lead one to sin. Eve doesn't 
>> confront evil when it seeks her out, as both Abdiel and Jesus do--she 
>> goes *looking* for it. That behavior is not in itself sinful, but 
>> it's not very prudent--and it's a type of pride (as I think I said 
>> earlier)--think of Sir Guyon in the Cave of Mammon (FQ), and even 
>> Samson's goading of Delilah (less prominent in the tale of Samson and 
>> Dalila, but still there).
>> One shouldn't (according to Milton) live a "cloister'd virtue"--one 
>> in which the opportunity for temptation never exists--but it's 
>> foolhardy to *seek* opportunities to "prove" oneself, too.
>> Adam--as you've noticed--doesn't make any effort to follow any 
>> dictate but that of his own desire . . . he doesn't even *pretend* to 
>> reason, as Eve at least attempts to do (though quite faultily, with 
>> disastrous results). I've always maintained that, despite the 
>> traditions, the story demonstrates that it's Adam, not Eve, who is 
>> responsible for Original Sin: had he refused to eat of the Fruit (on 
>> any number of the grounds available to him) only Eve--if even 
>> Eve--would have been cursed. It took *both* of our First Parents' 
>> disobedience to damn the rest of us--and since Adam was the second to 
>> disobey, it was he who was ultimately to blame for the ills our world 
>> contains--not Pandora Eve.
>> That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.   ;o)
>> Thank you for provoking such an interesting and lively discussion, at 
>> a time when most academics are too burnt out to argue about more than 
>> what they want to have for dinner!
>> Carol Barton
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