Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Milton on fallen liberty:

Postlapsarian free will suffers dysfunctional impairment, as the archangel Michael informs us in Paradise Lost 12.83-90:
Since thy original lapse, true Libertie
Is lost, which alwayes with right Reason dwells
Twinn'd, and from her hath no dividual being: [ 85 ]
Reason in man obscur'd, or not obeyd,
Immediately inordinate desires
And upstart Passions catch the Government
From Reason, and to servitude reduce
Man till then free.
Milton bases this upon his view that the free will must choose rationally, which thus requires two things: 1) sufficient information and 2) intellectual control.

In this passage, Milton concerns himself with the second of these, explaining that in fallen mankind, reason often loses its power of guiding free will, here called "liberty," because various passions, which reason should regulate, rise up to enslave us.

This argument concerning the relation between reason and the passions stems more from Greek than Semitic sources, but Milton is simply following a well-trod path originally blazed by Philo of Alexandria and followed by the Church Fathers.

Milton's view, however, does raise doubts about the existence of truly libertarian free will in fallen humanity, but Milton also has an answer, or at least a response, to those doubts.

Some other time, though . . .


Post a Comment

<< Home