[Milton-L] obedience

Uzakova, Oydin Yashinova oydin.uzakova at okstate.edu
Tue Apr 8 12:28:50 EDT 2014


First of all, thank you Michael Gillum, Carol Barton, and JD Fleming for "hearing" and understanding my ontological argument about the deceived/self-deceived distinction so important in Milton (listed as God's Reason #4 on Michael's list below).


Actually, I had already made this point on our list last November when we were discussing the problem of Hell: "Milton clearly differentiated between angels and (even pre-lapsarian) human beings on the hierarchical scale of Being, and thus conceded that Adam and Eve had been misled and deceived by an angelic being who was created with much more intelligence.  On the other hand, the fallen angels "should have known better" to be misled by Lucifer-Satan, one of their own kind (even if the brightest Archangel), as Milton had demonstrated by Abdiel's successful resistance to such temptation" (excerpted from my 1 November 2013 post).


In my more recent post, I forgot to mention Abdiel as an angelic example of "sufficient to have stood" to Lucifer-Satan's temptation: although Lucifer was the brightest Archangel and thus had some rational advantage over the other angels (not unlike Adam over Eve), they were still equal among themselves on the Chain of Being.  For Milton, "self-deceived" does not equal "deceived," so Lucifer's self-deception and the fallen angels' wishful thinking are treated the same.


I would like to add one more category to the deceived/self-deceived dichotomy: the "undeceived" agent like Adam, who consciously chooses to partake of Eve's transgression without being successfully "deceived" by her (despite her best efforts).  Like the fallen angels before him, Adam is "self-deceived" by an equal (human), and thus his conscious disobedience is greater than Eve's on that score, resembling Lucifer and the fallen angels' self-deception, wishful thinking, and conscious disobedience.


Oydin


________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of J. Michael Gillum <mgillum at ret.unca.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 10:15 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] obedience

I disagree with Greg's and Neil's (and Fish's) emphasis on arbitrariness. Milton's God is not the Calvinist God of pure will and power. Milton thinks of God as rational and reasonable. and Milton in PL interprets God's words and actions as reasonable insofar as the Genesis text allows. Yes, God in PL singled out a tree for arbitrary prohibition. He did so for a reason.  He had a reason to set up the test, and (because A&E had a frictionless relation to their environment in Paradise) the arbitrariness of the selection was essential to the test. We should not therefore conclude from the arbitrariness of that prohibition that arbitrariness is basic to God's nature and actions as represented in PL.

God had a number of reasons to be more merciful to A&E than to the fallen angels.

1. Mercy by definition is not deserved, but punishment may be deserved in different degrees. The angels raised impious war in Heaven against the throne and monarchy of God, while A&E violated an arbitrary prohibition. The angels rebelled violently against a good order, while the humans did something that would have been morally neutral except for the prohibition. It seems reasonable to distinguish degrees of punishment. Adam and Eve are still punished.

2. God told the angels before their revolt that rejecting the Son's kingship would cause them to be punished with no hope of mercy. He made no such statement to A&E.

3. The angels had a higher order of rationality which would have made truth and right more obvious to them than to the humans.

4. Eve was deceived by a being of a higher order; Satan misled himself and then his equals.

5. As the Son in Book 3 interprets the Father's decree of mercy (144-66), he gives a whole list of reasons for it:

---The whole race of man would be lost [implicit contrast with the majority of angels surviving].
---The Father had loved mankind as his "youngest son."
---Destroying mankind would give a victory to Satan.
---That victory would raise questions about God's "goodness and thy greatness both."

God's decree of mercy is therefore reasonable and not arbitrary. He does not include all this context in his decree, but--perhaps arbitrarily--chooses to mention only the factor of external temptation.

Michael


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