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Title: John Milton, William Blake and the history of individualism
Author: Colebrook, Claire Mary
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1995
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The justification of "the ways of God to man" in Paradise Lost draws upon a history of classical and Christian theories of justice. According to these theories, justice is a virtue and has less to do with positive law than it does with individual wisdom. These theories of justice as a virtue are conceptually dependent upon the doctrine of the Platonic/Christian soul and a certain form of pre-modern individualism. In response to the emergent modern individualism of his day Milton asserted a neo-Platonic conception of truth and order. According to this metaphysical theory, the individual, because he or she is endowed with a soul, can attain knowledge of a transcendent and eternal realm of truth through private contemplation. Although Romanticism has been seen by some critics, such as Harold Bloom, to promulgate a modern form of individualism, this thesis will argue that William Blake's poetry challenges both Milton's traditional doctrine of the soul with its personal relationship to God and the modern concept of subjectivity. Historians of ideas are united in locating the emergence of modern individualism in the seventeenth century with modern individualism being a hallmark of capitalist and increasingly secular societies. This modern form of individualism is rejected by both Blake and Milton but whereas Milton challenges modern individualism by reasserting an earlier hierarchical individualism, Blake sees individualism itself as the unifying characteristic of a great spiritual and cultural decline.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available