[csaa-forum] Justin Clemens: Writing & Society research seminar

Dimitris Vardoulakis D.Vardoulakis at uws.edu.au
Tue Aug 11 14:44:15 CST 2009

The Writing & Society Research Group

at the University of Western Sydney

is pleased to present


Justin Clemens (University of Melbourne)

on Milton's true religion


Friday 21 August, 11.00am-12.30pm

Room 1.1.114, Building 1

(Main Building) Bankstown campus

via the Henry Lawson Drive exit of the M5


In a groundbreaking study of early-modern republicanism, Philip Pettit
makes a crucial distinction: republicanism opposes freedom to slavery,
and not to constraint. This distinguishes republicanism from other kinds
of political commitments that may seem to have a similar animus (e.g.,
liberalism), because it separates 'domination' from 'interference.' For
republicans, domination 'is exemplified by the relationship of master to
slave or master to servant,' and is therefore inherently tyrannical;
whereas interference, in the form of public law and government, is
necessary and desirable in any good republic. As the republican poet and
polemicist John Milton puts it: freedom demands 'liberty,' not
'license.' The former of these requires a particular kind of obedience
(true freedom comes from submission to the law), whereas license, being
arbitrary, unconstrained action, is in fact nothing but another ruse of
slavery. A tyrant is a person or agency that is above the law, a
sovereign exception. Such exceptionality has as its fundamental physical
correlate the power to torture at whim; such agents, as Milton notes,
find idolatry and censorship essential. This paper examines the
relationships between freedom of speech, idolatry and punishment in
Milton's last published pamphlet and poem: 'Of True Religion' and
Paradise Lost.


All welcome. 



Justin Clemens has written extensively on contemporary continental
philosophy and Australian art. Forthcoming books include 'The Jacqueline
Rose Reader', co-edited with Ben Naparstek, and 'Alain Badiou: Key
Concepts', co-edited with A.J. Bartlett. His most recent book is
'Villain' (Hunter 2009), a collection of poems. He teaches at the
University of Melbourne.

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