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TSE  February 2013

TSE February 2013

Subject:

Re: The " abstract - isolated - human individual" was Can less be more?

From:

P <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Tue, 26 Feb 2013 18:00:04 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (59 lines)

Carrol wrote:
" it only depends on the fact that that is the modern conception -- and that PL was the first literary text to 'dramatize' that sense of human existence."

Doesn't Shakespeare get a look in there somewhere? "To be or not to be....&c"

P. M.

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>> Is it not the fundamental point of existentialism that existence is prior
>to
>> essence? And is that not what you, Carrol, have been describing?
>> Nancy
>
>I don't know; I'm not even sure I understand what the "existence" and
>"essence" mean in that proposition.
>
>Russell thought all relations were external; that "the whole" was merely the
>totality of the parts: a rain of electrons. Whitehead held that relations
>were internal (thus holding with Hegel's assertion that "The Truth is the
>whole." 
>
>Whitehead can't be wholly correct. Marx claimed to have focused on the
>"ideal average" of capitalisms, though he drew his examples from British
>liberal capitalism of the mid  195h-c. That "ideal average" is a whole, &
>hence all relations (would be) internal. But actual capitalism is not a
>whole but operates in a much larger context. (The endless importance of
>contingency is Stephen Jay Gould's central perception. Humans owe their
>existence to a wandering asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs)
>
>But actually my concern in the Milton article was Milton! And that concern
>does not depend on whether modern individualism is false or not as a
>conception of humanity; it only depends on the fact that that is the modern
>conception -- and that PL was the first literary text to 'dramatize' that
>sense of human existence. 
>
>A Cherub goes wandering through space on a  private tourist expedition, &
>Uriel, who has never seen the Cherub before,  is unfaced! Even in the
>Odyssey with its jumble of immortals, they all know of each other's
>existence. In a rather repellant book, "Shadow of Heaven" (1968) the scholar
>Jon Lawry condemns Uriel for falling victim to Satan's deception, and argues
>that Uriel should have known that the fake Cherub's desire for knowledge was
>improper. Milton had seen Lawry coming: he gives almost a full paragraph to
>underlining that hypocrisy is the one sin that only God himself can
>recognize. Hence the Cherub is the Cherub, not Satan in disguise, as far as
>Uriel (correctly) can see. So the Cherub & Uriel have no meaning for  each
>other, no identity, except that which is revealed in the course of their
>brief encounter. Uriel examines the _principles_ offered by the Cherub for
>his voyage & finds those principles valid. 
>
>I developed in my own head but never worked out the proposition that modern
>literature (particularly the English novel) is a series of footnotes to PL.)
>Adam when he wakes up and looks around obviously "comes from nowhere"; the
>novelist does not have this privilege, but in novel after novel hero &
>heroine are first isolated, made virtually as 'blank' as A & E, and then
>encounter each other as coming from nowhere. Social relations never exist
>but always have to be created afresh. Nothing before PL catches this up.
>
>Carrol

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