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

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 23 17:43:15 EDT 2009


Professor Fleming, I think that you're basically correct. John didn't provide a substantive answer to the question. He merely pointed to one in alluding to Newton the mathematician and Newton the prophet as "responding to the same set of problems of the time in which he lived."
 
 
I'd like to have heard John unpack what he meant by that remark. John, however, is a very careful scholar, and he likes to prepare a full answer based on sources. I suspect that he didn't go into further details because his presentation hadn't been on that specific issue, so he perhaps didn't feel that he should say more without fuller preparation.
 

By the way, I prefer "Jeffery" to "Horace."
 
 
Jeffery Hodges
 

--- On Wed, 9/23/09, JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca> wrote:


From: JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 3:16 PM


Without disrespect to your former teacher, Horace, it seems to me that the answer you report amounts to the statement "Newton was really, really smart, and wanted to look into everything that he felt mattered." Which may be true; but leaves almost aside the question of why, to him and given his core intellectual concerns, Biblical exegesis _per se_ mattered. JDF

----- Original Message -----
From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 12:35:02 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?)



And speaking of that devil Newton, here's what John Heilbron had to say about the man in a lecture on "Physics and History: Fractured in Modernity" (March 2008), in response to a question posed by a scientist who found incomprehensible that Newton would pour so much credulous energy into religious studies and who asked why Newton had done this sort of unbelievable work: 



Well, I think Newton thought himself a prophet, and he took all knowledge as his sphere and was trying to recover what the ancients knew, and he felt that certain ancient texts required his particular study, mainly -- or among others -- the prophecies of Daniel, and he spent a lot of time trying to identify events subsequent to the prophecy that did occur with their prophetic description. That was part of his self-image. And to employ an analogy, from science you have the quantum Newton. You cannot have Newton the world-system builder, the mathematician -- the towering mathematician -- without Newton the prophet because they come together. They are responding to the same set of problems of the time in which he lived. And so for me, it's a puzzle indeed to think that a man had the energy to devote himself with such ferocity to so wide a range of subjects, but I'm not surprised at all that a mind as capacious as his would have wished, at that time, to
 undertake such studies. I!
  decline the terms of the question insofar as it implies that we could have had Newton of the Principia without Newton of the Prophecies of Daniel or the Ancient Kingdoms Amended . 

I transcribed these words from the lecture and posted them on my blog this morning . . . along with a few other remarks, quotes, and links: 


http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/2009/09/john-milton-and-isaac-newton-as.html 


Jeffery Hodges 



--- On Wed, 9/23/09, Nancy Charlton <nbcharlton at comcast.net> wrote: 



From: Nancy Charlton <nbcharlton at comcast.net> 
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and Newton (Again?) 
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu> 
Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 1:43 PM 


Speak of the devil! Here is a link from A Word A Day of a title page of the Principia: 

http://wordsmith.org/words/images/imprimatur_large.jpg 

Nancy Charlton 

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-- 
James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

"to see what is questionable"

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