Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Milton? John Milton? He was not a philosopher! Or are you being facetious? I can't tell."

I recently posted the following on a facebook page dedicated to the subject of Analytic Philosophy:
I do not believe there is a philosopher who thinks as deeply, or--more importantly--as clearly as Milton. A person looking for philosophical insights is choosing the wrong field if he or she skips studying Milton for a program in Philosophy--indeed, isn't that the very conclusion that analytic philosophy itself must necessarily come to?
Was I being disingenuous or mischievous?  No, not at all. I meant it.  One interlocutor didn't quite know what to make of my statement:
Milton? John Milton? He was not a philosopher! Or are you being facetious? I can't tell.
My response was to direct him to one of my Highbrow posts on Milton's Project.

And then to a post concerning Bernard Bailyn's book on The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, which can be read by clicking HERE. Then I found myself jotting down my thesis concerning Milton's Paradise Lost as an expression of Analytic Philosophy:
The end of this post [on Bailyn's book] segues into the subject of Paradise Lost as an expression of Milton's anthropology of human understanding. Paradise Lost presents a synoptic overview of a variety of propositions concerning knowledge, human nature, language, politics, gender relations, consciousness, myth, mythographic representation, human identity, intellectual mythology, insight and illusion, apophatic theology, and so on. Unfortunately, the Miltonists don't know enough about analytic philosophy to read his satire at this depth, and the philosophers are unfamiliar with the grammar and literary traditions Milton parodies to construct his arguments.
Well, I might observe that when it comes to Milton's satire and philosophy, people can't tell if Milton is being facetious either.  To cut to the chase, he is, and that's Milton's point concerning everything, from the human condition to what have you.  Something more on this may follow.

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