Aeropagitica

I have been reading. Oh, I have been drinking deep in good literature. I have recently finished three books, all of them first-rate. This one is a historically important, thought provoking, and beautifully worded philosophical argument against the censorship of literature, written by John Milton in 1644.

The thought was that bad books would be saboteurs to the mind, the heart, even the very soul of a person. And for the protection of all people, it was proposed that any writings must be approved before being published. John Milton writes this speech in defense of the liberty of unlicensed printing against his own comrades- fellow believers.

As always, when you click on any images of books I discuss, you will be taken to amazon.com where you can purchase them. This one, for instance, is under a dollar on Kindle. I could post twenty of the best quotes on here- they are phenomenal- but I will stick to just three:

He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true warfaring Christian…I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That virtue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an excremental whiteness.

And again, if it be true that a wise man, like a good refiner, can gather gold out of the drossiest volume, and that a fool will be a fool with the best book, yea or without book; there is no reason that we should deprive a wise man of any advantage to his wisdom, while we seek to restrain from a fool, that which being restrained will be no hindrance to his folly. For if there should be so much exactness always used to keep that from him which is unfit for his reading, we should in the judgment of Aristotle not only, but of Solomon and of our Saviour, not vouchsafe him good precepts, and by consequence not willingly admit him to good books; as being certain that a wise man will make better use of an idle pamphlet, than a fool will do of sacred Scripture.

And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.

You see? Read it….it’ll be the best spent dollar of your day.

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