Paradise Lost has become (to borrow a term from Herder) a “fable” of choice. Although its theodicy is now obsolete, it appears to manifest concerns with problems of choice and uncertainty that speak to twenty-first-century challenges, including inequality, political polarization, and failures of collective decision-making. The impression it gives of intuiting a kind of knowledge of these contemporary problems arises out of structural and linguistic features that resemble the way chaos theory describes unpredictable systems. Paradise Lost thus gives aesthetic form to problems Milton had addressed in his earlier political writings, which look now as if they anticipate aspects of modern microeconomics.

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