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Coming ToConsciousness and Natality in Early Modern England$
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Timothy M. Harrison

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226725093

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226725260.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Unexperienced Thought

Unexperienced Thought

(p.33) Chapter One Unexperienced Thought
Coming To

Timothy M. Harrison

University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents a detailed analysis of how John Milton depicts Adam’s and Eve’s initial moments of awakening in Paradise Lost. Milton pioneers a new way of depicting human mindedness ab initio, a state of neonatal maturity unlike any other kind of human existence, one that is completely new but nevertheless capable of being remembered and described. In crafting mimetic accounts of neonatally mature human beginnings, Milton attempts to represent what it is like to be human in the absence of any nurture or cultural influence. Showing how Milton’s depiction of Adam’s and Eve’s first waking moments reworks Biblical, Greco-Roman, medieval, and Renaissance antecedents in order to develop a truly original first-person account of human nature, this chapter argues that Milton’s epic uses the affordances of inexperience to charge the meanings of experience and thought so that they verge on the sense of consciousness that was beginning to develop in the late 1660s. The chapter also explains Milton’s use of experience in Paradise Lost, drawing on the history of logic, from Aristotle to Milton’s own Artis logicae.

Keywords:   John Milton, Paradise Lost, Artis logicae, consciousness, experience, self, Adam, Eve, logic, Aristotle

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