[Milton-L] Milton's Prelapsarian Cosmos

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Tue Jan 5 11:47:57 EST 2010

I don't think this affects the current discussion, but it is of some use
to underline how different the pre-modern conception of time was. Our 60
minute hour did not exist for medieval and ancietn Europe or for the
Asian cvilizations. Time in those cultres was measured by events, not
events by time. The first regular hour (in our sense) was initiated (If
I remember correctly) in Venice in the 14th-c and spread graducally
wherever wage labor became common. Rural areas and the Church clung to
the older time measure.

Twelve events (in the Church day) occurred at night, 12 during the day.
So the day was always twelve hours, and so was the night. The length of
the hour was shortened during the winter and lengthene in the summer.
Hence the medieval hour coincided with the modern hour only at the fall
& spring equnoxes. 

Newton needed a standard hour for his physics, and hence it was he who
gave us the regular 24 60 minute hours a day. He was, moreover,
conscious that he was inventing a new time.

See Moishe Postone, _Time, Labor, & Social Domination_ (Univ. of Chicago
Press) for a detailed account of this development.


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