[Milton-L] The irrelevance of Satan's character: Second and Final Reply to Rovira

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Sun Jul 23 14:25:21 EDT 2006


 

>>   What you seem to be arguing from is a Calvinist position of total
depravity: humans or angels cannot freely choose to respond to God's
grace unless God enables them.

(a) Obduracy is the state of having fallen from grace; there is no
grace for Satan to respond to in PL 3, and God makes it clear in PL 4
that there never will be. 

(b) In Calvinism, grace is irresistible, so the acceptance of it is not
free in the relevant sense. Milton, as a non-Calvinist, treats grace as
a restoration of free will, not a guarantee of repentance.

>>[Satan's] obduracy must not only be freely chosen initially, but must
continue to be freely chosen.  This
is the obduracy you describe; but again, it is a consciously chosen
obduracy.

Obduracy is the loss of free will in the standard sense of the ability
to choose between alternatives (*libertas indifferentiae*, in the
17th-c. jargon). An obdurate person who chooses obduracy does not do so
freely. The fact that Satan deliberates between alternatives and then
chooses one ("Evil be thou my good") does not make him a free agent;
given his obduracy, the fact is a terrible irony at his expense.

We seem to have reached an impasse; one sign of this is that I seem to
do poorly in conveying my meaning to you. I am resigned to the
inevitability that the current effort will meet the same fate.


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