The Arguement Against Censorship in Areopagitica by John Milton

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The revolutionary period of the Renaissance, where the concept of individuality is in the center, will suggest progress in the promotion of the freedom of speech. Surprisingly, in John Milton's time, the opposite occurs: in England of 1643 comes forth the order of the regulation of printing, in which every printed material has to be licensed by the parliament in order to get published. Milton retaliates against this law by writing the tract "Areopagitica", a Greek word whose meaning is 'place of Justice'. This place is what he calls the "commonwealth" -- the public sphere. Consequently, it makes sense to allow limitations in order to uphold justice. However, Milton believes censorship prevents the ability to truly choose Good over Evil. He argues that people should be independent in their religious pursuits, through self acquired knowledge, and maintains that by pursuing differences England will find a common ground.
Milton distinguishes between callous censorship and justified limitation. He opens his argument with the assertion that, "It is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how Books demean themselves as well as men." Curiously, he admits that some form of limitation on print is essential in the Christian public sphere. The "vigilant eye" that watches how men "demean themselves" ought to oversee what takes place in printed material as well. Only, he expands the act of overseeing books to also "Do sharpest justice" on them.…

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