[Milton-L] renaissance faculties psychology and literature

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Wed Sep 2 00:16:40 EDT 2009


What an interesting question, Professor Machacek.  I'd like to try to 
respond to it, although I'm not sure if I'm correct in my interpretation.
Based on 4. 800-09 and 5.100-15 of PL, I think that Milton is saying 
something like this:  The stomach was supposed to distill certain "natural 
spirits" from food which were refined into "vital spirits."  These in turn 
carried sense-data to the "interior senses," which, I think, could be the 
true Fancy, or the true Imagination, to be ordered and presented finally to 
Reason which "frames / all what we affirm or what deny" (5.106-07) with the 
help of Understanding and Will.  If the organ of the true Fancy is tampered 
with by other stimuli from evil spirits, it becomes the false Fancy and then 
would make some strange combinations, creating illusions and delusions, 
that, in turn, affect Reason which affects Understanding and Will.  To most 
17th-century thinkers, as you know, Fancy or Imagination was high up in the 
hierarchy of faculties psychology.   Interestingly Bacon inverts the order 
of the faculties and places Imagination at the bottom of this hierarchy, 
much like Plato but not Aristotle.
You probably are familiar with all that and with William B. Hunter, "Eve's 
Demoniac Dream," ELH, 13 (1946), 255-65.
Best Regards,
Salwa Khoddam

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Butler, Todd Wayne" <butlert at wsu.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2009 11:15 AM
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] renaissance faculties psychology and literature


> While the tendency is to assume that reason is the primary determinant
> of analytical thought, I think you're right Greg in assuming that there
> is more to it than that. In _De Anima_, for example, Aristotle allows
> the imagination a key role in formulating thought, a role simply beyond
> the production of images from raw sensory data.
>
> Though the discussion there is somewhat convoluted, Aristotle does
> remark by way of summary that "[i]magination is also something different
> from assertion and negation-for it is the combination of thoughts that
> is true or false. What, then, distinguishes the primary thoughts from
> being images? Is it not better to say that neither they nor the others
> are images, but that they cannot occur without images?" (427b).
>
> A small plug: faculty psychology, specifically the imagination and its
> relationship to politics, is the focus of my book _Imagination and
> Politics in Seventeenth-Century England_ (Ashgate 2008). There's a
> chapter on Milton, though unlike Paul Stevens' work it focuses primarily
> on the early works (A Maske, the prose) rather than Paradise Lost.
>
> You are, of course, free to read whatever you like... ;-)
>
> Todd Butler
> Associate Professor and Buchanan Scholar
> Vice Chair, Department of English
> Washington State University
> Pullman, WA  99164-5020
> (509) 335-2639
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Gregory
> Machacek
> Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2009 7:07 AM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: [Milton-L] renaissance faculties psychology and literature
>
> According to Renaissance faculties psychology (like that invoked by Adam
> in
> response to Eve's dream), what faculty or faculties would have been
> involved in the *analysis* (not the production) of poetic artefacts?
> What
> faculty would Aristotle have been using, according to Renaissance
> thought,
> when he wrote the Poetics?  Just reason, as in any philosophical
> undertaking?  Or was there some aesthetic sensibility sensibility
> specifically?
>
> Thanks for any help.
>
> Greg Machacek
> Professor of English
> Marist College
>
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