Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quaeritur: Please Explain the Previous Post


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Quaeritur: May I ask good sir that you explain the previous post for us slow people?

Respondeo: Let's see if I can rework Garrigou's reasoning syllogistically. I will structure each of his three criticisms (as numbered in the previous post) as a reductio ad absurdum, using the following format:

P1: Either a or b.
P2: If b, then c.
P3: If c, then d.
P4: But d is false.
Conc.: Therefore, b is false and a is true.


FIRST ARGUMENT:

Premise 1: Either (a) God is the primary cause of our free actions (Thomistic position), or (b) he is not the primary cause of our free actions (Molinist Position).

Premise 2: If (b) God is not the primary cause of our free actions, then (c) these actions are caused independently of him.

Premise 3: If (c) these free actions are caused independently of him, then (d) God is not the universal primary cause of all things.

Premise 4: But God is the universal primary cause of all things (d is false).

Conclusion: Therefore, God is the universal primary cause of our free actions (b is false; a is true).


SECOND ARGUMENT:

Premise 1: Either (a) God's knowledge of our free actions causally determines our free actions (Thomistic position), or (b) God's knowledge of our free actions is causally determined by our free actions (Molinist Position).

Premise 2: If (b) God's knowledge of our free actions is causally determined by our free actions, then (c) God is passive with respect to these actions.

Premise 3: If (c) God is passive (or potential) with respect to these actions, then (d) He is not pure Act, Ipsum Esse, the Uncaused Cause, the Unmoved Mover.

Premise 4: But God is Pure Act, Ipsum Esse, the Uncaused Cause, the Unmoved Mover (d is false).

Conclusion: Therefore, God's knowledge of our free actions causally determines our free actions (b is false; a is true).


THIRD ARGUMENT:

Premise 1: God knows future free choices infallibly either (a) because He infallibly decrees them from all eternity (Thomistic position), or (b) because, without decreeing them, He can foresee (via Molina's so-called scientia media) what will happen given any circumstance (Molinist position).

Premise 2: If (b) because, without decreeing them, He can predict what will happen given any circumstance, then (c) human acts are infallibly determined by their circumstances; that is, given a certain set of circumstances, a human being can only act in one determined way (is not free to make different choices).

Premise 3: If (c) human acts are infallibly determined by their circumstances; that is, given a certain set of circumstances, a human being can only act in one determined way (is not free to make different choices), then (d) there is no freedom of the will, but rather a circumstantial type of fatalism (or "determinism of the circumstances").

Premise 4: But there is freedom of the will (d is false).

Conclusion: Therefore, God knows future free choices infallibly because He infallibly decrees them from all eternity (a is true; b is false).


7 comments:

Dave said...

How can an eternally decreed act be freely chosen?

Don Paco said...

That's the great mystery of the compatibility of predestination and free will (both of which are revealed truths of the faith). Only in heaven will we be able to understand this adequately. (Cf. Rom. 8-9, and Garrigou's book Predestination.)

But in the meantime we can understand the mystery by analogy. Consider a story, such as Romeo and Juliet. Both Romeo and Juliet are free agents, each of which makes his own decisions freely. Both of them freely chose to commit suicide, for instance. Yet the whole story, and all its aspects, including the free choices made by the characters, were written by Shakespeare. Nothing that happens in the story can happen without it coming from Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet are not free despite Shakespeare being the cause of their free acts, but rather, they are free thanks to Shakespeare's causality.

The relation between God's primary causality and our free, secondary causality is similar. We are free, not despite God being the primary cause of our free actions, but rather, we can act freely only because there is a God who is their primary cause. Without God, there would be no free activity, no free agents, no universe.

Alexander said...

Thanks!



So without God, Stalin could not have killed millions because his free actions are dependent on God’s existence. Yet these acts of murder were decreed by God (in a negative sense?)?

Meaning therefore every act of the human will cannot be achieved unless God allows it because our existence is dependent upon his Will; men cannot act or exist apart from God. Yet at the same time He cannot interfere with our will (in a certain way, I am not speculating here about the predestinated or the accounts of God interfering with an already determined act of man – such as saving the life of a person who is about to be murder from someone who has already freely chosen to kill).

So.. God decrees the acts of a murderous man not in a positive sense;

1. Because He allows us to freely chose our actions.

2. Because all actions and all of existence our dependent upon His Will.

3. Therefore when a man murders another man this action cannot be achieved without God enabling it through His power of enabling all creation to act at every moment in time.

Is this what it all means?

Don Paco said...

Right, Alexander: this is the famous question: unde malum, "whence [comes] evil"? Does it come from God? The answer is that whatever is evil in an action does not come from God; only what is positive in the action comes from God. God is the author of all esse, but evil as such is a privation of the esse that a thing should have in virtue of its nature. Thus, evil needs no positive cause, because it is not a positive entity at all.

Alan Aversa said...

Doesn't Boethius' last book of his Consolations of Philosophy talk about how freewill relates to the ability to reason?

Egami said...

This seems to me to be a representation of Molina that can hardly be stated to be fair. It implies that Molina actually rejected the views of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, but did he really do this? Or wasn't he giving a different interpretation of the teachings of both saints which was at odds not with the saint's views, but with the prevalent interpretations of the scholastics during his time.

Don Paco said...

That was precisely the objection that was made against Garrigou, but I think he answers it thoroughly in his book, showing that Molina did in fact hold this. See especially his discussion on the issue in the Appendices.