[Milton-L] Milton's Prelapsarian Cosmos

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Tue Jan 5 19:40:06 EST 2010



"Judith H. Anderson" wrote:
> 
> I didn't know all this.  Did you?

Not until I read Postone' book. His notes name several other discussions
of the same mataerial.

The mechanical clock was necessary to measure modern time. I forget the
date, probably 14th-c. Several of those were sent to China, but the
Chinese were not interested in measuring time in equal units. After all,
humans had gtotten along without strict time units for about 100
thousand years. It takes time <g> to accustome oneself to historically
varying concepts of time, and it still seems strange to me.

Carrol
> 




> -----Original Message-----
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Carrol Cox
> Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 11:48 AM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton's Prelapsarian Cosmos
> 
> 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.
> 
> Carrol
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