Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Milton's Cosmos . . . or Universe?

A Representation of Milton's Vertical Cosmos
Walter Clyde Curry
Milton's Ontology, Cosmogony, and Physics (page 156)
(University of Kentucky Press, 1957)
(Image from Purdue University)

I learn something new every day. Today, I learned of a distinction that some make between Milton's Cosmos (above) and Milton's Universe (below). Counterintuitively, the latter is smaller than the former!

A Diagram of Milton's Universe
Paradise Lost, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes?
(Image from USCB)

In searching the internet for other depictions, I found an interactive 'map' of Milton's Cosmos at MapLib, though the 'map' is very schematic. Its usefulness comes from the markers stuck to the 'map' that reference Paradise Lost by book and line. Note that this 'map' seems to place the sun at center of the universe. If you poke around on the 'map', you'll see what I mean.

Scholars have long argued this point, i.e., the precise center of Milton's universe, whether geocentric (as depicted in the diagram above) or heliocentric (as seemingly depicted at the MapLib site).

The debate is understandable since -- as John Leonard explains in his annotated Paradise Lost -- "Milton usually depicts the universe as earth-centered, but he often hints that it is sun-centered" (page xvi). On the same page, incidently, Leonard notes that "Milton's cosmos is infinite; his universe large, but finite" (page xvi).

I suppose that I ought to adopt the terminology that Leonard accepts, for he's studied this material and ought to know better than I. I'm currently writing a paper on the seasons in Paradise Lost and need to say some words about the universe's structure, though I need not be definitive on this point, for I'm merely trying to figure out the motions of the heavens.

More on this another time.

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At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just how does one distinguish between the cosmos and the universe?

In my dictionary cosmos has two
basic thoughts:
1. An ordered system.
2. the universe.

And the universe has two basic thoughts:
1. The totality of all things that exist; the cosmos; creation.
All together; the whole.
2. The world.

I was taught that the cosmos referred to the ordered world system, and the universe referred to the whole system of stars and planets.

The word cosmology seems to mean the study of the universe as a whole.

I assume that Milton had in mind the cosmos as the ordered world system, and the universe as the heavenly bodies as a whole, which would include the dwelling of God.

Perhaps Jeffery could make the proper distinction, as Milton sees it, anyway.


At 4:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I had the same reservations as you. I couldn't quite see how an "ordered system" could include chaos . . . unless it implies that chaos is kept in its place. But "cosmos" would better fit the ordered world of creation, in my opinion.

I'm not sure that Milton himself used the terms "cosmos" and "universe" in the ways noted in this blog entry. Maybe only the Milton scholars do.

I asked about the distinction on the Milton List yesterday, and one prominennt scholar acknowledged that the distinction is used but that he finds it "strained and unhelpful." Maybe the terms should be changed from "universe" and "cosmos" to "universe" and "multiverse" -- as that scholar suggests.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is kind of a late comment.
I have a book, UNIVERSE BY DESIGN, by Dr. Danny Faulkner, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2004.
He states: (that some think) "Our universe may be just one of many or even infinite universes. (p. 41).
Also: "The quantum fluctuation theory of the origin of the universe has been expanded upon to allow for many other universes....This idea is the multi-verse mentioned earlier that has been invoked to explain the anthropic principle..."(pp. 55.56).
Of course, Dr. Faulkner doesn't agree, believing in the Biblical account of a unique, created universe by God.
He concludes: "In his very readable book, BEFORE THE BEGINNING, Martin Rees does not raise the issue of God, but he does not have to, when one considers that his suggestion that we live in an immense "multi-verse" containing an infinite number of universes is an attempt to explain how we and our apparently improbable big-bang universe could exist. It is obvious that in Rees's view there is no need for a Creator )p.72).

I once read somewhere that there are as many theories of cosmology as there are cosmologists, and each will fight for his own, as a mother for her child.

I don't know how to change to font so I instead capitalized the book titles
I also may have some unnoticed errors.
Just in case, I won't mention the "prominennt" scholar in your reply, hoping you will return the favor.


At 1:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did put in a couple of errata at the end, but maybe you won't notice.


At 4:52 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You are forgiven, Uncle Cran, for your intentional errata.

Thanks for the other details, too. Milton, of course, attributed his 'multiverse' to God.

Jeffery Hodges

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