A piece by D. D. Guttenplan in today's New York Times chronicles the recent
debate in the TLS whether "Milton's verse play 'Samson Agonistes' is an
incitement to terrorism".  The real target in this debate, however, is not
Milton but Stanley Fish who in his recent book "How Milton Works" states
that "in the end the only value we can put on Samson's action is the value
he gives it in context."

Fish's defense of Milton rests with Milton's desire to conform to "devine
will" and thus virtuous.

This is an outrageous position that Fish is taking.  We are getting very
close to absolute knowledge founded on a theological justification.
Millions of people have been killed by those following their "devine will".
Jacob Bronowski, during his documentary series, spoke about absolute
knowledge.  Standing in a field adjacent to Auschwitz he bent down scooped
up some mud and said "my mother and father are buried here".  This is what
absolute knowledge is about.

Bob Summers

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