[Milton-L] pre-fallen knowledge of sin

Dennis Danielson danielso at interchange.ubc.ca
Wed Jul 2 10:25:51 EDT 2008

I have been too consumed with other things to follow this discussion
properly, so please forgive me if I'm repeating points made by others.
But let me start with Kim Maxwell's statement "Much depends upon what we
take 'know' to mean." It certainly does.

Somewhere in the Christian Doctrine Milton explicitly distinguishes
*notitia approbationis* (which I take to mean something like “knowledge
which implies approval”) from mere *scientia*; and in the state of
innocence it is the latter sort of knowledge of evil that A&E possess.
Hence, “Evil into the mind of god or man / May come and go, so
unapproved, and leave / No spot or blame behind.” This distinction can
be found in other writers too: *scientia visionis* vs. *scientia
approbationis.* The first of these also seems to be what Milton has in
mind when he uses visual vocabulary in Areopagitica: "The knowledge and
survay of vice is in this world . . . necessary to the constituting of
human vertue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth."

Unless we have this distinction firmly in mind, we inevitably get
confused when Adam and Eve seem to have knowledge of evil in the state
of innocence.

Best regards,
Dennis D

Dennis Danielson
Professor and Head
Department of English
University of British Columbia
#397 - 1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1
telephone: 604-822-3174
Author: The First Copernican
WEB: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ddaniels/

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