Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Ethics of Gatekeeping Revisited

Unsurprisingly, the feedback I received in class on my last post was essentially: sounds interesting, but what's your thesis? Not that I didn't have a thesis; it was just buried deep in rumination. I'm studying the personal/lyrical/Montaignian essay at the moment, which means I'm trying to spend more time transcribing internal debates than advancing arguments. It's also why this post begins in this rambling sort of way, rather than simply saying: I'm setting aside my interest in the dangers of knowing and retreating from my discussion of LDS cultural policy to focus (once again) on Milton's ethics on gatekeeping.

So, Andrew, this means I'm addressing the questions and concerns:
I think the topic of the role of "gate-keepers" of knowledge is a fascinating one. Where did Milton see gate-keepers as fitting in? Is there a place for gate-keepers, or do they just result in more damage (as Rafael arguably did with Adam and Eve)? That's a lot to cover in just 3-4 pages even without connecting it to modern LDS times, but I look forward to seeing what you do with it. Good luck!
My (tentative) thesis statement is as follows:
Milton's Areopagitica argues in favor of the free marketplace of ideas, but his laissez-faire philosophy does not extend beyond the political sphere; in both Areopagitica and Paradise Lost, Milton implies the exchange of knowledge can, and even should, be managed under certain circumstances.
Eh? What say ye, fellow bloggers?

Also, if you're not interested in dissecting my claim, you're welcome to imagine and comment on whether Milton would have been more or less hansom had he grown a mustache like Montaigne's.


  1. This is definitely an arguable point, but there's a lot to back your claim. The change in narration type from Book XI to Book XII is, in my opinion, one of the strongest evidences, but you could look at Raphael's advice to Adam as well as a fairly rich source of substantive evidence. On the other hand, it's odd to note Milton's self-professed aspirations for knowledge in seeking to "soar above the Aeonian mount" and in other places. I don't know that I personally would say that Milton believes one way or another but he certainly has a dialogue going on in his head. I'll be interested to read your end result.

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