[Milton-L] obedience

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Mon Apr 7 17:16:34 EDT 2014


Wow, what a statement of the problem. Thank you.

As I understand your argument (and I may not), part of the rub of the
"therefore" is that it seems like a step in a sequence of causation, so
that Satan's temptation is the reason for God's redemptive mercy for
mankind. Yes, that's perverse.

Could the therefore function, though as a kind of hinge by which Milton's
logic swings back and forth between Satan and God? I'm picturing it as the
pivot point of a meter: Satan is on the red end and man on the green side
-- 

Satan is self-motivated THEREFORE I will show him no mercy.
Man was tempted by Satan THEREFORE I will show him mercy.

That doesn't deal with the other problem, though:

"Man does ordain his own fall, and we always know it to be so, but a decoy
like 'therefore' is nevertheless able to make us go against our knowledge,
for a moment; we want very much to read 'deserve' instead of 'find' grace,
and do so until the word 'mercy' reminds us that grace is gratuitous,
cannot be earned and certainly not deserved: 'But Mercy first and last
shall brightest shine'."

I think the therefore implies a "deserve" -- at the least, "deserves" less
to be condemned. Milton could think that extending salvation to Adam and
Eve is still a matter of grace because they still deserve to be condemned,
but saying that they deserve to be condemned "less"... that still seems to
give the lie to grace.

Jim R

On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 3:18 PM, Neil Forsyth <neil.forsyth at unil.ch> wrote:

> May I intervene briefly in this interesting discussion, since one
> correspondent has mentioned my contribution in *The Satanic Epic?*
>
> I'm not sure that I hammer mercilessly at 'therefore', but I do indeed
> make it a key to understanding the logic of the epic (theology too
> perhaps), and in doing so am arguing against, or perhaps developing an
> argument of, my own teacher Stanley Fish. Here is what I wrote:
>
>
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