Thesis ID: CBB001562115

Subjectivity, Opposition, and Subversion: Divine Illumination, Right Reason, and the Revision of the Experimental Scientific Method in John Milton's “Paradise Regained” (2004)


Doss, Helen Michelle (Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz
Warren, Michael J.

Publication Date: 2004
Edition Details: Advisor: Warren, Michael J.
Physical Details: 266 pp.
Language: English

In Paradise Regained Milton represents a resistive strategy he advocates as necessary for virtuous, rational, and conscientious engagement with the post- lapsarian world. This strategy is constituted by an ideal heroic subjectivity that is oppositional; a subjectivity that resists in action, response, and/or state of conscience, those phenomena or ideological forces that are opposed to it. My exploration of this resistive strategy reveals the poem's systematic articulation of a rarefied order of experience--the existential struggle of an individual to discern or to understand the nature, the purpose, and the value of his or her existence in relation to the world, the divine being, and divine providence. I propose that the existential struggle of the Son demonstrates the means by which the messianic prophecy will be fulfilled and "fallen" humanity redeemed, or "paradise regained." As Milton's only poem written completely after 1660, Paradise Regained articulates an ideal heroic subjectivity through its dialogue with the early- Restoration English experimental scientific method for the attainment of knowledge and the production of verifiable truths. Indeed, the modes of thinking, of using language and reason, of pursuing understanding, and of attaining truth of the characters of the poem--Andrew, Simon, Mary, Satan, and the Son--reveal Milton's engagement with and revisions of the experimental scientific method. Through their use of "right reason" in the proposing of hypotheses, the analyzing of evidence, and the making of conclusions about divine providence, Andrew, Simon, and Mary struggle to overcome doubt of and uncertainty about the progression of divine providence and the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy. Satan's proposals of corrupt hypotheses, of fallacious evidence, and of improbable facts are contrasted to the Son's patient contemplation of divine providence, of Scripture, of his life experience, and of the probable truths arrived at through his use of "right reason." Satan's use of rhetorical representations in the pursuit of knowledge is juxtaposed to the Son's use of dialectical argumentation and of divine illumination in the pursuit of understanding. In demonstrating the manner in which humanity will be recovered from its fallen state, the Son exemplifies Milton's own revision of the scientific method and his commitment to the necessity of vigorous human opposition to error through the cultivation and the exercising of conscientious virtue, subversive opposition, and rigorous rationality.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 65/05 (2004): 1792. UMI pub. no. 3135054.

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Authors & Contributors
Trubowitz, Rachel
Jacqueline L. Cowan
Simon, David Carroll
Guevara, Perry
Parsons, Keith M.
Lipking, Lawrence
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Russian Review
Environmental History
ELH: English Literary History
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Cornell University Press
Cambridge University Press
University of Wisconsin at Madison
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of California, Irvine
Science and literature
Science and religion
Poetry and poetics
Methodology of science; scientific method
Revolutions in science
Milton, John
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Shakespeare, William
Cavendish, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle
Boyle, Robert
Harvey, William
Time Periods
17th century
Early modern
19th century
18th century
Yosemite National Park
Royal Society of London

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