Christopher Crosbie deposited Publicizing the Science of God: Milton’s Raphael and the Boundaries of Knowledge in the group Renaissance / Early Modern Studies on Humanities Commons 5 months ago
This essay reads Raphael, the principal expositor of scientific knowledge in Milton’s Paradise Lost, as embodying divergent, virtually antithetical, dispositions towards the prospect of free engagement with natural philosophy within the public sphere. At once stimulating Adam’s curiosity about the natural world while also overzealously curtailing the range of human inquiry, Raphael inadvertently primes Adam and Eve to fall for Satan’s sophistry by advancing undue restrictions in excess of his divine mandate. In doing so, Raphael’s pedagogy conveys the uncertainty experienced by Milton and many of his more anxious contemporaries regarding the precise manner by which one should best navigate scientific discussion within a burgeoning public sphere. Raphael’s dual functions create a dialectic of restrained scientific inquiry that, in the absence of a definitive model for a religiously-informed science predicated on free inquiry, thus constitutes that most Miltonic of paradoxes: the advocacy of investigative liberty superintended by an elite few.