Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Exposure to Sin - Milton

One of the interesting arguments that Milton brings forth in 'Areopagitica' is that in order to show true virtue, one must be able to sin.  If your virtue is enforced, is your only choice, then it doesn't mean as much.
I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.
On the face of it, this makes sense to me, but rarely has a society agreed with Milton here.  We shun indecency and vice.  We especially work hard to keep it away from those least likely to fall prey to its temptations.  But of course Milton was speaking of books.
And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read.
How can we know what we're arguing against if we never hear those arguments?  We run into this today in modern politics where it is increasingly easy to read only opinion that you already agree with.  If your mind isn't exposed to the ideas of the opposition, it will probably never be changed.  Like Milton, I can't praise that 'fugitive and cloistered virtue'. 

Note: I just discovered that the previous couple of entries didn't publish for some reason.  They are below in their proper time slots.

No comments:

Post a Comment