Propaedeutic comments on Milbank and RO

Also titled: A Return to Radical Orthodoxy after 10+ Years of Criticism. I am going to reflect on some criticisms made of Milbank’s work (and note he has answered some of these in The Future of Love, even agreeing with a few).  There are some that are good, some that are interesting, and some that are stupid.

The Good

Michael Horton has advanced the most interesting critique of Milbank:  his metaphysics posits an “overcoming bodily estrangement” vs a “creational covenantal meeting.”  In other words, transcending finitude.

Decent criticisms

Others have pointed out (Herdt et al) that Milbank overplayed the medieval guild socialism of John Ruskin.  There’s probably something to that charge and Milbank conceded as much.  Others charge that Milbank misread NeoPlatonism.  I’m not so sure about that.  What I think the charge of Hankey and others is trying to get at is that Catherine Pickstock wasn’t warranted in connecting NeoPlatonism with modern anti-secular Liturgical arguments.  Maybe.  I’m not sure.

I spent last summer analyzing The Enneads.  I *think* I know what Plotinus means, but I could be wrong.  Plotinus is very easy on surface level but notoriously difficult once you start asking deeper questions.

As to their reading of Plato, I think they are fundamentally correct.  James KA Smith simply criticized their assertion that Phaedrus is secretly pro-embodiment.  I don’t think it is, either.  On the other hand, I do their their is something to the claim that if the finite is not upheld by the transcendent, we have nihilism.

Bad Criticisms

A lot of academia simply got angry that Milbank asserted that Christians didn’t have to ask secularists’ permission to engage in theology in the academy.

Concluding Anti-Criticisms

Milbank is engaging with men like Slavoj Zizek and the New Atheists.  Are his critics?

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in Autobiography, Philosophy, theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Propaedeutic comments on Milbank and RO

  1. cal says:

    I’ve read crticisms that Milbank is just a willful manipulator of the tradition, trying to make coherence where there is divergence, hence the claim to be “radically orthodox”. However, this all seems like a neo-Oxford movement at some levels, maybe not, I could be wrong.

    Milbank seemed to concede in one talk that he is only Anglican by accident (i.e. he is born in an Anglican country). Not to be voluntaristic, but this makes me skeptical that this is, at its roots, a kind of conservative, philosophically astute, slightly Christianized Platonism for the 21st century.

    But, until his Christian critics do anywhere near the amount of work with recent philosophy, then he’s a shining star.


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