Passion to Change the World in John Milton's Paradise Lost

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Passion to Change the World in John Milton's Paradise Lost The world I see around me every day is one based on reason, scientific principles, tolerance, freedom, and most of all, a deep-rooted skepticism toward any form of absolute truth. When I think about Paradise Lost, I cannot help but to ponder what implications Paradise Lost has in this cold post-modern world. The world was a very different place in 1666, and not to say Milton’s ideas where meaningful to everyone in the 17th century, but for many people today Paradise Lost is, to put it rather bluntly, little more than a fairy tale. My thoughts have led me to one question; can a post-modern society such as ours learn anything from Paradise Lost that we can use to help better our world, or do our vast technological skills and post-modern philosophies provide a sufficient means for us to find joy, happiness and meaning in our lives? The post-modern world is full of complexity, skepticism, and moral ambiguity. Jean-Francois Lyotard, in “Defining the Postmodern,” explains that post-modernism arose from a rejection of modernism and its failed ideologies, ideologies that gave us such memorial events as Auschwitz, and have left us with deeply engrained feelings of skepticism toward our world and ourselves. Lyotard illustrates how mankind, in a post-modern world, “is in the condition of running after the process of accumulating new objects of practice and thought,” which to Lyotard is “something like a destiny towards a more and more complex condition.” Lyotard points out the implications of this ever increasing complexity when he observes that “our demands for security, identity, and happiness…appear today irrelevant in the face of this sort of obligation to complexify, mediate, memorize and synthesize every object,” and “consequently, the claim for simplicity, in general, appears today that of a barbarian” (1612-5). Our world is in every way leading us into, as Lyotard points out, “a more and more complex condition” (1614). Truth, for example, was once thought of as a single transcendent idea, accessible by a means such as science, religion, or philosophy. However, as citizens of a post-modern world, we have to deal with a more complex definition of truth than ever before. Friedrich Nietzsche, in 1873, said, “truths are illusions of which we have forgotten that they are illusions; metaphors which have become worn by frequent use and have lost all sensuous vigor” (878).
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