[Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)

Butler, Todd Wayne butlert at wsu.edu
Tue Sep 22 18:47:14 EDT 2009


There was a whole conference in Sussex this summer devoted to just this
issue-I wasn't there so I can't say much about it (perhaps someone else
on this list was?), but all of the information, including paper
abstracts, can be found at

 

http://www.newton-milton2009.sussex.ac.uk/conference/index.php/milton-ne
wton2009/mn09

 

 

 

Todd Butler

Associate Professor and Buchanan Scholar

Vice Chair, Department of English

Washington State University

Pullman, WA  99164-5020

(509) 335-2639

 

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Horace Jeffery
Hodges
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 3:33 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)

 

I've been listening lately to several lectures by one of my old
history-of-science professors, John Heilbron, and I was struck by his
response to a question that followed his lecture on "Physics and
History: Fractured in Modernity," at about 54 minutes and 30 seconds
into the video:

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBNxH_BuGGE&feature=channel

 

 

The question concerned Newton's 'obsessive' interest in 'nonscientific'
things and was posed by a scientist puzzled about Newton's obsessions
with scriptural interpretation.

 

 

Here's what I wrote to John after watching the video:

	I was struck by your remark in response to a question from a
scientist about Newton's 'other' interests. You stated that Newton
considered himself a "prophet." What struck me was the fact that Milton
thought the same of himself. I wonder if anyone has written a comparison
of Milton and Newton, for the former not only seems to have considered
himself a prophet but busied himself in all areas of knowledge.
Something about the 17th century seems to have driven individuals -- or
Milton and Newton, anyway -- to attempt a regrounding of all knowledge.
I suppose that it's part of that great historical process set in motion
by the collapse of the Medieval worldview.

John suggested that I add Galileo to the list, and I suspect that one
might even add Descartes -- who needed God's 'revelation' to ensure the
truth of his system.

 

 

Anyway, since Milton and Newton had such similar interests, have many
comparative studies been done of the two?

 

 

This is the sort of thing that I ought to know about already (and I
recall that we had some discussion of this recently), but I confess
myself quite ignorant.

 

 

By the way, John's first lecture, "Physics and History: Forged in the
Baroque," is also good:

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWd84FyDxmM

 

 

It's also about an hour in length.

 

 

Jeffery Hodges

 

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