Seductive Evil in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

Some have criticized Paradise Lost for its sympathetic portrayal of Satan as a heroic and appealing character. At times, Satan’s actions seem somewhat justified: he considers himself to be an innocent victim, suffering alienation once exiled from Heaven. This begs the question: why is Milton’s Satan not more obviously “evil”? Why has the stereotypical, red, horned “Devil” been replaced by a somewhat sympathetic, fallen angel? Does this imply that Paradise Lost failed at its task of moral education, or that perhaps Milton’s own understanding of evil was ambiguous, unclear or incomplete? What Milton demonstrates in his sympathetic depictions of the devils, rather, is a far more complex understanding of the essential nature of evil as a strong, seductive force that one must resist with vigilance.

Divine Synecdoche

As a Cultural Studies student, my first encounter with Sallie McFague’s article was jarring: her eco-feminist metaphorical approach to theology is somewhat unexpected to those unfamiliar with Religious Studies. Yet I suppose I have misjudged much of this field of study by unfairly coming to expect either wholly traditional or wholly radical claims. McFague’s approach, however, seems relatively moderate and reasonable in all its assertions, and its neo-Derridian deconstruction had my inner cultural analyst bursting with excitement. Aching to break away from the patriarchical tyranny of classical Christian theology, she is committed to a drastic reconstruction of traditional Christian dogma.

Cartesian doubt spawns question of cultural lineage

Humanity’s endless quest for self-knowledge can most pointedly be traced back to the Descartes’ declaration of “I think, therefore I am,” (cogito ergo sum [1] ) – the idea that self-awareness alone is proof of one’s existence. Yet as this Cartesian claim assumes the ‘I’ of a subject as self-sufficient and self-reflexive, emergent from within, it denies the possibility that the self is altered by outside influences or formed in relation to others.

Levinas vis-à-vis the Other

Philosophy, arising from its Greek tradition of a “love of wisdom”, seeks to critically examine those questions most fundamental to humankind; it is concerned with essential concepts (or rather, questions) of being (metaphysics), rightness and goodness, knowledge, truth and beauty. As a branch of metaphysics, ontology seeks, in particular, to understand the nature of being […]