[Milton-L] "Ontological superiority"

Richard Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Wed Jul 19 16:26:17 EDT 2006

Some remarks with limited time:

Since I disagree with almost everything that James Rovira says, let 
me just say that his very complacent and assured account of 
"traditional" assumptions does not take account of how contradictory 
and complex the history of Christian thought about these matters is. 
Thomists and Nominalists, for instance, have very different 
understandings of the relation between the ontological and the moral.

I don't see any argument for the inextricability of the ontological 
and the moral.  God being the source of all (living) being -- chaos 
seems just there, in Milton and Genesis 1 -- it does not follow that 
He is the source of all value and morality.  The question of whether 
something is good because it is divinely commanded, or God commands 
the good because it is good, actually precedes Christianity by 
centuries.  See Plato's Euthyphro.

The idea of continuous creation is by no means a basic premise of Christianity.

In the Hebrew bible, God changes His mind a lot.

To put my final card, for now, on the table:  I see no moral 
justification for the permanent damnation of the fallen angels or of 
transgressing humans.  Hell is a disgusting notion -- morally 
unintelligible -- and a truly benign omnipotent Being would work for 
the eventual salvation of all intelligent creatures.

Richard Strier
Frank L. Sulzberger Professor
Department of English and the College
The University of Chicago
1115 E. 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

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