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Milton's Ontology, Cosmogony, and Physics

Milton's Ontology, Cosmogony, and Physics

Walter Clyde Curry
Copyright Date: 1957
Pages: 242
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j0w1
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  • Book Info
    Milton's Ontology, Cosmogony, and Physics
    Book Description:

    Walter Clyde Curry, a well-known student of Milton, analyzes the origins and unique construction of the grand stage upon which Milton presents the drama of human destiny inParadise Lost. Through close examination of four entities -- Heaven of Heavens, Hell, chaos, and the World -- a greatly expanded view is provided of the poet's concept of space and God's relation to total creation. In facing structural and philosophical problems Milton is shown to be neither a materialist, nor an eclectic, nor a pantheist, as many scholars have insisted; he emerges rather as a master syncretist of widely divergent materials and as a devout theopantist. Curry has established a firm basis for a better understanding of the poet's methodology and for a clearer insight into his artistic accomplishments

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6259-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CONFESSIONS OF THE AUTHOR
    (pp. 1-21)

    Dr. samuel johnson says: “paradise lost is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take it up again. None ever wishes it longer than it is. Its perusal is a duty rather than a pleasure. We read Milton for instruction, return harassed and overburdened, and look elsewhere for recreation. We desert our master, and seek for companions.” During my twenty years of perusal, I, too, have often laid the work aside with confusion of mind, sometimes with embarrassment or frustration. But being impelled by an irresistible fascination, I have, unlike Dr. Johnson, returned...

  5. Chapter 1 MILTON’S DUAL CONCEPT OF GOD AS RELATED TO CREATION
    (pp. 22-47)

    The purpose of this chapter is to disengage milton’s philosophy of the divine nature from narrow theological or sectarian controversy and to show how consistently his dual concept of the Deity in relation to the world is developed in theChristian Doctrineand embodied inParadise Lost.

    In theChristian Doctrine¹ Milton approaches his consideration of God with due reverence and humility, confessing readily that it is “impossible to comprehend accurately under any form of definition the ‘divine nature’” (XIV, 39). Still, “the Deity has imprinted upon the human mind so many unquestionable tokens of himself, and so many traces...

  6. Chapter 2 MILTON’S CHAOS AND OLD NIGHT
    (pp. 48-73)

    When satan in milton’s paradise lost struggles hrough the turmoil of chaos until he approaches the coast of darkness bordering upon light, he meets two Powers or Spirits of the nethermost Abyss, Chaos and ancient Night.

    behold the throne

    Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread

    Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned

    Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,

    The consort of his reign (II, 959-963).

    These ancestors of Nature subsist by virtue of the confusion over which they hold sway: Chaos, the old Anarch, sitting as umpire in the eternal conflict between embryon atoms, by decision more embroils...

  7. Chapter 3 THE CONSISTENCE AND QUALITIES OF CHAOS
    (pp. 74-91)

    Milton’s chaos in paradise lost is disorderly, but it is palpable and therefore subject to processes of analysis. Upon proper consideration it is discovered to be a subsistent entity whose inherent primary qualities, such as extension, solidity or fluidity, number, and motion, may as usual be grasped by perception. And these perceived primary qualities have the power of producing a variety of sensations, secondary qualities such as heat and cold, color, and sound.¹ It is heterogeneous, a mass of agglomerate materials in various stages of becoming. This chaos in all its multiplicity of detail is directly prepared by God to...

  8. Chapter 4 THE GENESIS OF MILTON’S WORLD
    (pp. 92-113)

    Reports of uriel and raphael in milton’s paradise Loston the genesis of a new World are respectively fragmentary, sometimes hazy, and, except by implication, incomplete. Being under the influence of the Jewish tradition, these angels agree of course that God in some manner created the material Universe. But their accounts of an ordered process of creation, stage by stage from a portion of a divinely prepared chaos to the marvelous result, are complicated and confused by the introduction of elements taken apparently from Stoic, rabbinical, Neoplatonic, and atomistic philosophy. It is true that the account in Genesis is disconcertingly...

  9. Chapter 5 THE LORDSHIP OF MILTON’S SUN
    (pp. 114-143)

    The sun in paradise lost is a complex generator of varied powers by which he controls and regulates all functions of the Mundane Universe. As ruler crowned with surpassing glory he looks from his “sole dominion like the god / Of this new world” (IV, SS). Likewise he has elsewhere been called “the leader, prince, and ruler of all the other lights, the soul and principle of order in the world, of such dimensions that his light illumines and fills the universe.”¹ He is the creator and dispenser of life and accordingly may be conceived as “the common father of...

  10. Chapter 6 SOME TRAVELS OF SATAN AND THE ROAD TO HELL
    (pp. 144-157)

    This chapter has something to say about concepts of the absolute Infinity of God or his attributes, hyperbolical infinitudes of time and space, the relationship between Spirit and matter, about mental and visual perspectives, directions, and distances in Milton’sParadise Lost.It is especially concerned with the wanderings and adventures of Lucifer, already in Heaven called Satan. This protagonist of epic proportions requires in action a vast stage which represents the whole sweep of created existences, Heaven of Heavens, Hell, chaos, and the Cosmos or World.

    Perhaps consideration of the stage in miniature may help to clarify its true relation...

  11. Chapter 7 MILTON’S SCALE OF NATURE
    (pp. 158-182)

    Raphael in milton’s paradise lost explains to Adam that angels of all ranks require food for the sustenance of their bodies. For, says he, these pure intelligential substances, like the rational man, have within them every lower faculty of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste, and tasting concoct, digest, and assimilate. As pure Spirits they are capable of transubstantiating easily the gross corporeal viands of earth into an ethereal substance–called incorporeal because of its purity–which sustains their subtle and highly sublimated material bodies. Adam is impressed by the radiant form of his visitor and, somewhat embarrassed,...

  12. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 183-188)

    Now milton has apparently completed a stage of sufficient immensity upon which he is enabled to present a sublime action asserting divine providence and purposing to justify the ways of God to men. As ontologist he has approached the Being of Divinity and defined his essential properties together with the qualities of the Son and Holy Spirit; he has analyzed the essences of angels, of human beings, and of all created things, showing relationships of all secondary natures to each other and to God. As cosmogonist he has derived formless matter–the substrate of all creatures–from God who prepares...

  13. APPENDIX Milton’s Light Exhaling from Darkness: A Study in Symbols
    (pp. 189-204)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 205-226)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 227-229)