A Darkly Bright Republic: Milton's Poetic Logic

South African Journal of Philosophy 37 (2):158-170 (2018)
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My first section considers Walter J. Ong’s influential analyses of the logical method of Peter Ramus, on whose system Milton based his Art of Logic. The upshot of Ong’s work is that philosophical logic has become a kind monarch over all other discourses, the allegedly timeless and universal method of mapping and diagramming all concepts. To show how Milton nevertheless resists this tyrannical result in his non-Logic writings, my second section offers new readings of Milton’s poems Il Penseroso and Sonnet 16: “On His Blindness”, along with his prose epilogue to his elegies (and thereby the entire collection entitled Poems). These readings attempt to show (1) the original admixing of philosophy and poetry (under the heading of “thoughtfulness”), (2) the shadow-hidden superiority of poetry in connection to the effeminising disability of blindness, and (3) the potential irony of an apology that arguably suggests poetry’s superiority to philosophy. Finally, I rest my case for Milton’s rebellion by offering an interpretation of Paradise Lost which affirms the character of Satan qua dark, queer, poetic figure of classical republicanism.
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