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The Aesthetics of Evil Aesthetics: Etymology: mod. < Greek ασθητικ-ός, things perceptible by the senses, things material (as opposed to things thinkable.

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Presentation on theme: "The Aesthetics of Evil Aesthetics: Etymology: mod. < Greek ασθητικ-ός, things perceptible by the senses, things material (as opposed to things thinkable."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Aesthetics of Evil Aesthetics: Etymology: mod. < Greek ασθητικ-ός, things perceptible by the senses, things material (as opposed to things thinkable or immaterial), also perceptive, sharp in the senses; < vb. Stem --feel, apprehend by the senses. Applied in German by Baumgarten (1750–58, Æsthetica) to criticism of taste considered as a science or philosophy; against which, as a misuse of the word found in German only, protest was made by Kant (1781, Crit. R.V.21), who applied the name, in accordance with the ancient distinction of ασθητά and νοητά, to the science which treats of the conditions of sensuous perception, a sense retained in the Kantian philosophy, and found in English c1800. But Baumgarten's use of æsthetik found popular acceptance, and appeared in English after 1830, though its adoption was long opposed. (See below.) Recent extravagances in the adoption of a sentimental archaism as the ideal of beauty have still further removed æsthetic and its derivatives from their etymological and purely philosophical meaning.

2 Aesthetic Immanuel Kant applies the term to art and nature Broadened most recently: not only judgments or evaluations, but properties, attitude and experience, pleasure or value. Terms can point out aesthetic and nonaesthetics properties: powerful (locomotive vs. Beethovens Third or Mahlers Fifth) ;pompous (an English professor or a film by Ken Russell); daring (solider or an avant-garde play); linear (an equation or an abstract painting); restful (a nap or an adagio movement of a chamber piece)

3 John Miltons Paradise Lost John Milton ( ) Paradise Lost first published in 1667 in ten books, second edition published in 1674 expanded to twelve books Milton publishes five tracts urging that the Church of England reform itself by reducing its monopolistic, tyrannical power over the religious lives of the people

4 Miltons Biography 1642 Civil War begins in England Commonwealth 1649 Charles I executed 1660 Charles II enters London as king (Restoration)

5 Paradise Lost and Evil William Blake: The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true poet and of the Devls party without knowing it. –from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793) Samuel Taylor Coleridge: In Paradise Lost the sublimest parts are the revelations of Miltons own mind, producing itself, and evolving its own greatness; and this is so truly so, that when that which is merely entertaining for its objective beauty is introduced, it at first seems a discord. –from Lecture X (1818)

6 Evil and Its Causes Etiology: A branch of knowledge that is concerned with causes The etiology of Evil in Paradise Lost: Miltons poetic task is to justify the ways of God to Men (26) and pose the question whence cometh evil. Superhuman agency: Th infernal Serpent: it is was…deceivd / the Mother of Mandkind (34- 36).

7 Types of Evil PL traces the origin of human iniquity through three distinct manifestations of sin: (1)Satanic evil-in heaven among Lucifer/Satan (2)Adamic evil-Eden among Adam and Eve (3)Historical evil-foreseen among the descendents of Adam and Eve

8 Schemes of Causation Each manifestation of Evil forms an integral part of Miltons epic inquiry into the causes of all our woe (yet…each inception appears to envision quite dissimilar etiologies of Evil). The poem moves from schemes of causation that are: (1)Internal, moral, and individual (2)External, physical, and communal

9 Satan and Evil Radical self-determination (erupts in a vacuum) Sin is born the instant Lucifer (light bearer who was created Good but free) imagines a new identity, Satan (Adversary) Sin a product of the radical freedom of the will

10 Adam and Eve and Evil Evil manifests not in a vacuum, but due to seduction (an Satan seduces Eve, she in turn seduces Adam). Evil depicted as an external threat, but the duo succumb in moments of inward collapse (by consenting to temptation, both choose evil as they are chosen by it)

11 The Descendants Evil as biologically determined (occurs prior to choice) External forces on a grander scale than simply the individual (history, race, and…fate?) *Thus, in Miltons etiology, the earlier that evil occurs in real time (not narrative sequence), the more spontaneous it seemsas if due to the act of free choice alone. By contrast, the later evil arises, the more substantial it seemsas if due to unavoidable physical contamination.

12 The Aesthetics of Miltons Satan and Hell/Pandemonium Satan as miles gloriosus (Latin for the glorious solider)

13 The Aesthetics of Miltons Satan and Hell/Pandemonium

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