As you can see, we've hopped into a time machine, and moved forward more than 1,000 years. We've also moved to the land of the Angles and Saxons: Angleland, or as we now call it England. One of the things we're going to do is look forward and backward to see what kinds of connections we can make with challenges to democracy both before and after. Here are the things I'd Like you to think about as you mark up the document by Milton for your dropbox.
Click on the above picture to reach a brief biography
Be warned in advance. Areopagitica is not an easy read, the English language is constantly changing (does anyone write "information" instead of "info" these days? The Topic of this essay is closely related to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which we'll come back to again later. Think of this as you read this.
In the third paragraph on p. 1, He gives first an argument for censorship, followed by an argument against it. He goes as far as to say it is worse to "kill" a book than to kill a man. Paraphrase his argument in a sticky note explaining the relationship between reading and reason, and and indicate whether you accept or deny his argument on this point.
In section three, he uses as an illustration several arguments used by Dionysius Alexandrinus. Does one of these seem important to you? If so, underline it. If not, write a note including a question concerning why this is difficult to understand.
Section four move on to consider another thing--knowing "right" from "wrong" We've seen some of this in both Aristotle and Cicero. He says "virtue" needs to be "tested". What does he mean by this. Is he right? How does our ability to reason "test" whether we are virtuous or not, and what does this have to do wit access to books and to reason? What to you think about this?
He uses an argument against "licensers" in section five. Do you agree?
In the second paragraph on p. 5, He uses an argument similar to one used in Aristotle. Can you find it? Underline it. Note that here, and in the third paragraph he is using sarcasm to make his point--note his analogies related to clothing and drinking.
At the top of p. 6, he gives what someone might call the source of the necessity to "reason" you'll see it in quotes, and that it goes back to Adam of the Old Testament. What is necessary before one can "reason" and how does this relate to "licensing"?
In sections 8 and 9, he really "blows his cool" and lays into censorship and the arrogance of censors. He also relates this to the work of teachers and students in school. Why is Censorship harmful to us: you, the students, and I the teacher?
Section 14 takes Milton off in another direction. He appeals to the pride of the English. How does he doe this, relating this to the "Reformation" which you may discuss in Western Civilization or some other history course. Is this a good tactic? Is it fair? What do you think?
Finally, does Milton offer an alternative to Censorship? Look at the last to sections (17 and 18). Do we still use this technique today?
Many years ago a student had a newspaper article censored for the RWU student newspaper. I felt he had a right to speak his mind so I made a website to publish his article. You can read it if you wish by clicking here. The email on that page no longer works.
Click on the above picture to reach a brief biography
Locke is a little easier to read than Milton, but not all that much. Again, leave yourself enough time to give him a thorough going over.
Note that Locke begins by asserting his claim: He's pro-toleration. During your reading count up the number of arguments he gives concerning what we should be tolerant. Put the number at the top once you've finished.
In the first paragraph, he uses scripture to promote toleration, and the reasons therefore. Do these arguments seems reasonable to you? Write "yes" or "no" alongside of them.
In the second paragraph he calls something "incredible" and also states what the "true reason" for persecution is. In sticky note, indicate what these two things are, and whether you agree with neither, one, or both.
Locke also makes a contribution to the First Amendment to the American Constitution by describing duties of the civil state and religious organizations. how this influences the American Constitution? Give a brief explanation in a sticky note.
Beneath the asterisks ***** you'll see Locke describe enforcement methods in matters civil and religious. What are they, and do you see a connection to Milton? A sticky note will also work for this.
On page three he defines "church". He also describe the process by which one becomes a member. How is this different from how one becomes a member of "civil society"?
What is the only solution, according to Locke, for treating members of a church who do not follow the church' commandments?
On page 5, Locke suggests how to recruit members What does he suggest? is it a good idea? What do you think?
On page 6, he writes to the issue of forcing practices of one religion upon those who practice another religion. He uses an analogy to explain that civil magistrates may and may not do. What is that analogy (hint--modern medical practices are just about ready to start).
On page 7, he uses an illustration which indicates that we're about ready to move our focus again to a different place. Comparing dates between Roger Williams and John Locke, you'll see why. You'll also see that one of these two men could have known the ideas of the other, while the other could not have known so. Which is which and how do you know.
On pages 8 and 9 he excludes persons who hold to two types of belief to be excluded from "toleration": Mahometans and Atheists. He gives different reasons for each. You can use Google to search for the reasons if necessary. His use of Mufti explains one. Think about the other. How does a person normally stand when taking an oath of office? Is Locke unfair here? Have things changed across time?
Finally note that he brings racism into the issue. How do his views on persecution for race compare to his other views on persecution.
The illustration over the table of contents is from Fox's Book of Martyrs. You can click on it, but you'll have to load it on your computer to see it. Unfortunately Archive.org is off line at the moment.