Aers and Kress 1981

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Aers, David and Gunther Kress. "Historical Process, Individuals and Communities in Milton's Areopagitica." In Literature, Language and Society in England, 1580-1680. Totowa: Barnes & Noble, 1981.

removal of human agency by reifying abstract concepts like "knowledge" (155) and the use of passive verb constructions

"Whatever his overt claims, he perceives virtu and truth in terms of a contemplative and detached stance ('see', 'abstain') rather than of a practice which involves dialogue and transactive processes with the world of social and material existences." (159)
"Like the marked us of non-transactive verbs we discussed above, these negative formulations are a linguistic manifestation of Milton's inability (or possibly conscious unwillingness?) to envisage the allegedly active virtue he praises and commends as specifically embodied and engaging with the world in dynamic and specific interchange. Tangled in his own web of negatives and the abstract nominals which he has endowed with agentive powers, absorbed in a self-generating conceptual universe, he quite fails to enter into dialogue with the empirical processes of human interaction which might have encouraged him to focus on the inadequacy and immediate incoherence of simple and fixed dichotomies like purity and impurity. (160-1)
"Phrases like 'the exercise of truth', so characteristic of Milton's discourse, are deeply misleading in the way they systematically eliminate human actors and their historical relationships. A writer who habitually uses such forms probably lacks categories for treating historical change and action, even when, as in Milton's case, they are most obviously inherent in his topic -- the human production of knowledge." (163)

image of quarry, hewing different rocks to form one building (171)

"Milton has developed a model which seems concerned with the changing phenomena of the present world but actually excludes all engagement and dialogue with the empirical realities of human relationship, action and changing conflict." (172)
"He dissolves the processes of reality in a discourse which lacks any means of treating the interaction between individual consciousness and social being, any way of subjecting its abstractions and assertions to genuine engagement with the determinate evidence of past and present events and the diverse interests of contemporary groups or individuals making their country's history in highly specific circumstances." (175)