And next to Life
Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by,
Knowledge of Good bought dear by knowing ill.
Another thought-provoking line from Paradise Lost, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. The “knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill” has many analogies: how would we know what light is if there were no darkness? Put differently, how could we appreciate and value happiness if we didn’t know sadness?
Of course, Adam and Eve knew inherently that their state was pretty much awesome since God had given them Happiness and Immortality, but I guess the true implications of what good means and its connection/contrast with evil is what was kept in the Tree of Knowledge. If they were happy, though, how did Satan manage to tempt Eve? I think the answer lies in these lines:
But apt the Mind or Fancy is to roave
Uncheckt, and of her roaving is no end…
I don’t even want to remember how much time I spent (wasted?) wondering about deep philosophical things and (even more time) about impossible but cool physical phenomena (what would I see were I too travel faster than light?). Well for that last one, I have an excuse since I need this for my book, but still, my mind spent hours “roaving uncheckt” instead of doing something useful. The continuation of the phrase above:
Till warn’d, or by experience taught, she learne,
That not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and suttle, but to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime Wisdom, what is more, is fume…
So, settle for simple because striving for superior knowledge is useless? It sounds logical because really, the more we know, the more difficult our lives become. Then again… when has humanity ever gone for the easiest route?
Will we ever?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!