Freedom, theodicy and the problem of modernity in Milton and Blumenberg
Vacher, Nathan Charles
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In the Legitimacy of the Modern Age, Hans Blumenberg argues that Augustine formulates the doctrines of Predestination and Original Sin as an attempt to absolve God of the responsibility for the evils of the world in a way that overcomes the Gnostic challenge to the Christian Church. This thesis examines the failure of this attempt to overcome Gnosticism, a failure that was nevertheless constitutive for the conceptual, dogmatic and psychological environment of the Middle Ages, which required a second overcoming accomplished in the transition to the Modern Age. Milton’s theodicy is based on freedom, and shows how the Gnostic problem is transformed in the Early Modern Age. This thesis examines the significance of this theodicy and the threat of Gnosticism and their anthropological consequences, arguing that they reflect the interest in and concern about human freedom emphasized in the epochal transition from the Medieval to the Modern world.