Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Garrigou-Lagrange: Three Reasons Why Molinism is Wrong


Share/Bookmark From Garrigou-Lagrange, OP - God: His Existence and His Nature,* Vol. 2, Appendix IV, p. 465:



*Available from ITOPL.

13 comments:

Alexander said...

May I ask good sir that you explain this for us slow people?

Alan Aversa said...

I never thought of how it would limit God's being pure act.

Don Paco said...

Alexander, please look at my new post, where I laid out Garrigou's reasoning as best as I could.

http://iteadthomam.blogspot.com/2011/01/quaeritur-please-explain-previous-post.html

Egami said...

Yes, there are clearly some objections against Molinism, but the Thomistic view is not without it's flaws.

For instance, it very much destroys human freedom and all the explanations given to say how freedom is in fact retained end up being rather weak (man can resist efficacious grace if he wills, but never does...well how is it a genuine possibility to resist then?).

The physical premotion is also problematic. God premoves all to the actions intended by him, even while it is asserted (not demonstrated) that he moves them to act "freely" it is never made clear just how it is that this comes about.

Don Paco said...

The mystery of grace and free will is a profound one, one which no one is able fully to understand or appreciate. Thomism and Molinism are attempts at understanding something that lies fully beyond the grasp of human understanding.

The difference is that Thomism is a more elevated and profound attempt than Molinism.

Most of the Molinist objections against Thomism (the "flaws" you mention) are removed if one realizes that God is not a cause in the ordinary sense of secondary cause. Rather, He is the *primary* cause of the universe. Molina admitted that he did not understand Aquinas' doctrine of primary/secondary causality, and preferred to see God and man as concurrent (or side-by-side) causes of the human act (see Garrigou's "God," vol. 2, appendix IV).

The language of primary and secondary cause can be deceptive, then, because it gives the impression of it being a matter of two concurrent causes of more or less equal kind, and perhaps one is primary in that it causes before the other. But this is very far from reality.

Put in layman's terms, God isn't just a powerful guy in the sky that "helps" us act; rather, he lies entirely outside the realm of created causality and makes the said causality possible and real, His omnipresence notwithstanding--much in the same way in which the author of a story lies entirely outside the story and is not a character in the story, but is present in every page of the story, making the story possible and real. (This, of course, applies to the Divine Nature and not the Human Nature of Christ; it finds a notable exception with the Incarnation.)

He is the author of the universe and of history, and nothing happens in this story without him "writing" it---much in the same way, albeit analogically, in which the author of a story is the cause of everything that occurs in his story, and nonetheless the characters in the story may be humans, with free will, and making free decisions. We can't say that the characters are free "despite" the author having put them there and having written their story; rather, we must say that they are free *because* the author has made them such.

In a similar, though analogically primary, way, God is the author of all of history, and of (free) human actions. Human acts are free, not "despite" the fact that God causes them, but precisely *because* God causes them to be free.

This is the true meaning of the doctrine that God is the "maker of heaven and earth, of all that is visible and invisible." Clearly, if He created "omnia," then that includes human acts, and everything in every human act, no exceptions. Nothing exists that is not caused by Him--not even human acts, and not even some aspects of human acts. Only privations and negations fall outside of his causality (because they are nothing), which is precisely the same as saying that *nothing* fall outside of his causality. Molina, unfortunately, had trouble with this doctrine, for he had to make an exception to God's universal causality (God does not cause all things).

Beyond this, I cannot explain *how* God causes a free act; I do not even know how God causes a rock out of nothing. Neither can the Molinists. That kind of knowledge surpasses theological science, and pertains (at best) to the beatific vision.

Egami said...

Don Paco: "The difference is that Thomism is a more elevated and profound attempt than Molinism."

I think that this affirmed only because Thomism keeps "the mystery" (as Lagrange would say) unlike Molinism which solves it, even if imperfectly.

Problem is that Thomism needs to appeal to mystery/antinomy in order to establish it's position whereas Molinism does not.

For instance, man resists sufficient grace and in so doing is deprived of efficacious grace BUT non-resistance is already a work of efficacious grace. Well...how can man not resist then? He can only resist in this case.

Whereas in Molinism man can legitimately resist or turn towards grace. There is no loop or unsolved mystery. It is clear and sufficiently establishes human freedom as well as the sufficiency of grace.

In truth, the two rower analogy of Molinism makes much more sense when dealing with two entities that have two separate wills than does the Thomistic analogy used by Lagrange of the fruit being the effect of the branch and the tree.

Don Paco: "He is the author of the universe and of history, and nothing happens in this story without him "writing" it---much in the same way, albeit analogically, in which the author of a story is the cause of everything that occurs in his story, and nonetheless the characters in the story may be humans, with free will, and making free decisions. We can't say that the characters are free "despite" the author having put them there and having written their story; rather, we must say that they are free *because* the author has made them such."

I can understan this, but how does it not makes the whole view deterministic? Sure, the creature is free because the author has made them such but when all is said and done, the creature (or character in the book) can do nothing else than that which the author "wrote" for them. I don't see how it can truly be said that the creature is free under this scenario.

I accept that we cannot explain everything down to the last detail on this issue. But I actually see Molinism making much more sense and being better grounded and preserving human freedom and the sufficiency of grace.

Don Paco said...

The Thomistic view is indeed deterministic from a modern perspective. Freedom in the modern sense of the term (lack of any outside determination) is not preserved by the Thomistic view. Aquinas understands freedom differently, as lack of determination from any created agent. That kind of freedom he does preserve. No secondary cause determines our will. But God does, since, in fact, our acts are entia, and he is the full (primary) cause of all entia. Psalm 134 celebrates this fact: Omnia quæcumque voluit Dominus fecit, in cælo, in terra, in mari et in omnibus abyssis.

Again, I think the difficulty boils down to the fact that we have different conceptions of "God." To put it bluntly, Molinism views God as just another creature, even if a powerful sort of creature, in order to safeguard (a modern conception of) human freedom. Thomism, which rejects that modern idea of freedom, is intent on safeguarding God's universal causality and understands human freedom as being an effect of that universal causality.

I once read an author saying that whereas Thomism is essentially theocentric, in that it is concerned with saving God's universal causality, and thus dominion, over all that is not God (which figures, since Thomism is a medieval theological synthesis), Molinism is essentially humanistic or anthropocentric and is thus concerned with saving human freedom (Molinism is a product of renaissance humanism, after all).

In any case, I think Thomists have not only the Church Fathers (esp. St. Augustine) on their side, but even St. Paul--and thus God Himself: read Romans 8 and 9, for example: "Thou wilt say therefore to me: Why doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will?"

Settling this issue is not essential for one's salvation--the Church has given us the liberty of choosing either side without censure--but it is an important theological principle that will 'color', as it were, many of your theological conclusions.

Don Paco said...

PS. Here is a paragraph from an essay on Garrigou-Lagrange's biblical sources on predestination that I am sending for publication:


Phil. 2:13: Further, God’s primary causality over human acts in particular is confirmed by St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, when he exhorts them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling: “For it is God who worketh (ὁ ἐνεργῶν) in you, both to will (τὸ θέλειν) and to accomplish (τὸ ἐνεργεῖν), according to his good will.” This remarkable passage is quite explicit: God is the primary cause, both of the interior acts of the will (“to will”) and of the exterior acts of our other powers (“to accomplish”). The principle of divine primary causality is, therefore, not merely a medieval scholastic invention, but rather, a divinely revealed truth that Aquinas finds in St. Paul and only unpacks metaphysically through his Scholastic terminology.

Egami said...

Fair enough Don Paco, I'll let your respond stand and I know and agree with you that this is not a salvific issue but one which we Catholics can discuss freely.

That said, have you seen the four objections against Thomism set forth in the Catholics Encyclopedia? You can find it under the heading "Thomism" in this link:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06710a.htm

Perhaps you could make a separate post touching on them? Only fair, I think that just as you posted the objections to Molinism, that you post those against Thomism as well.

Evoken said...

"In truth, the two rower analogy of Molinism makes much more sense when dealing with two entities that have two separate wills than does the Thomistic analogy used by Lagrange of the fruit being the effect of the branch and the tree."

With regards to this that Egami said, wouldn't a good analogy/illustration of the subordinated relationship between God and secondary causes be found in the two natures and wills of Christ?

In Christ we have two wills, the divine and the human, and while the human is subordinated to the divine, it nonetheless remains free in all it's acts. This is very much how the divine motion may be seen to work in our wills.

What do you think Don Paco? Is this a valid analogy?

Don Paco said...

Evoken, that's an interesting analogy, but I wonder whether it is helpful to explain how the human will can be in conflict with God's will. In Christ, such a conflict is impossible.

Whatever the case is with that analogy, I am strongly opposed to the rower analogy, since it subordinates God's role to that of a secondary cause. God's true role is not merely to propel the boat, but to cause the boat's existence, and not only that, but that of the rower himself, and of the sea, and of everything else besides. The analogy completely misses the point, IMHO.

Evoken said...

Interestingly enough, I actually made a post recently in a forum addressing the four objections presented in the Catholic encyclopedia article.

[b]Objection 1:[/b] The first objection is the danger that in the Thomistic system the freedom of the will cannot be maintained as against efficacious grace, a difficulty which by the way is not unperceived by the Thomists themselves. For since the essence of freedom does not lie in the contingency of the act nor in the merely passive indifference of the will, but rather in its active indifference — to will or not to will, to will this and not that — so it appears impossible to reconcile the physical predetermination of a particular act by an alien will and the active spontaneousness of the determination by the will itself

...

Reply: This particular objection, as it is written, does not seems to do justice to the Thomistic view in the way it represents it. For a start, with regards to the canon of Trent that is cited, the author excludes a key part which is crucial to the discussion. The canon states one may not affirm that man, under the influence of efficacious grace, "cannot refuse its assent [b]if it wishes[/b]". The bolded part is very important. Trent did not define that man [i]does in fact[/i] resists, only that he may [b]if[/b] he wishes. Thomists affirm that man can indeed resist if he so wills, but that under the influence of efficacious grace, [u][i]he never wills to[/i][/u].

To elaborate, under the influence the divine motion (and thus efficacious grace), the will when moved acts only in one way, not because it does not always retains the power of choosing something else, that is, to will or not to will this or that, but because it has already chosen freely one particular thing, that is, one particular good.

The problem the author has reconciling [i]"the physical predetermination of a particular act by an alien will"[/i] with the [i]"active spontaneousness of the determination of the will itself"[/i] lies on the fact that the author, as seems to be the case often, conceives of God's premotion as if God actually wills [i]for[/i] man as opposed to him giving man that by which man determines himself freely to this or that particular good.

The free act of man consist first, in man being objectively attracted to a particular good, then forming by his intellect a practical judgment about this good, and lastly in the production of the free choice by the will. The divine motion does not takes away these things from man, as if God does them [i]for[/i] man. Rather, the divine motion transcends these mutually dependent causes and instead of abrogating or doing away with them, actualizes them, putting them into act.

In essence, what the author is saying with this objection is that "the actualization of free will by God destroys it", something which is manifestly untrue. Both because, as St. Thomas states, it is not repugnant to the freedom of the will to be moved from within by an external (or alien as the objector says) cause who can only be God ([b]Summa I q.105 a.4[/b]) and also, that, as the holy doctor states elsewhere, by the very fact that nothing can resist the divine will, it necessarily follows that not only are those things done which God wills to be done, but that they are done precisely in the manner in which he wills them to be done, namely, of necessity or contingently/freely according to his will ([b]Summa I q.19 a.8 ad.2[/b]).

Thus, our acts are free not [i]in spite[/i] of the divine motion but [i]because[/i] the divine motion intends them to be. Indeed, it would be most repugnant to the divine motion if the will were moved of necessity and in a manner contrary to it's nature. But the efficacy of the divine motion and will, extending as it does even to the free mode of our acts, ensures the very freedom of our acts by causing in us and with us that by which we determine ourselves freely towards some particular good.

Evoken said...

I put the previous message there, with the hope of getting some feedback.

As far as the analogy I mentioned previously, I think you raise a valid point Don Paco in that Christ's divine and human will can't be in conflict. I do think however that the analogy, even while imperfect and limited, can show how it is not incoherent and contradictory for one will to be subordinated to another while still remaining free in all it's acts.

I personally find the analogy compelling and the idea came to my mind recently after an exchange with a fellow Catholic. I'll have to dig deeper into, have to hit the books :)

Agree with you on the rower analogy and I personally have no sympathy for Molinism.