[Milton-L] potestas ordinata, potestas absoluta, reason, and arbitratry commands

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 13 17:20:00 EDT 2008

Jim, you remark:

"My first inclination would be to think that Adam and Eve, being innocent, have no knowledge of evil -- not having eaten the fruit -- so need to be told -evil- (not the fruit) is something bad and to be avoided. But this would mean they have no knowledge of good and evil prior to the fall other than the existence of the word in their vocabulary, which they cannot associate with anything else in their experience, since evil is heterogeneous to creation."
We differ on this point. I think that Milton distinguishes between conceptual and experiential knowledge of evil. Milton's view -- in my reading of the text -- is that the prelapsarian Adam and Eve know evil conceptually through their reason.
On the common and the impure (and the holy), you argue as follows:

"So a swine is 'impure' not because of any quality other than being common, and the word 'common' here is used in a very general sense to mean nothing more than 'that which is not set apart for special purposes.' That which is set apart for special purposes is what is 'holy.'"
This is not the Levitical system.
The impure is not synonymous with the common. The swine is common, but it's also tainted by impurity. Anything common can be tainted by impurity, but some common things are not capable of being purified, e.g., the swine. Many common things are pure already or can be purified. The holy has two somewhat differing meanings. Fundamentally, the holy is a dynamic force emanating from God. Secondarily, it refers to things that were originally common but that have been ritually purified and set apart for God. Such things 'imitate' the divine both by being separated from common things and by being not impure.
Jeffery Hodges
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