[Milton-L] Absolute Freedom

Ross Leasure trleasure at gmail.com
Wed Apr 15 13:14:34 EDT 2009

Dear mentors and colleagues,

I write humbly to ask for some guidance (as I plow through excerpts of
De Doctrina Christiana from the recently published Modern Library
edition) in preparation for teaching tomorrow's class.  I'm sure I'm
missing something, my own feeble faculties insufficient to comprehend
Milton's logic.  My particular difficulty is in wrapping my mind
around what seems to me a problematic contradition presented briefly
in the following to passages:

"In God a certain immutable internal necessity to do good, independent
of all outside influences, can be consistent with absolute freedom of
action" (c. 3; p. 1155).

"God always acts with absolute freedom, working out his own purpose
and volition" (c. 5; p. 1174).

If an immutable God, of internal necessity, can only do good, is he
not limited in his freedom since he cannot will evil?  How can God's
incapacity to will evil be "consistent with absolute freedom of
action" in other words?  Or could God will evil, but chooses not to?
Wouldn't that change the essential nature of Milton's good God?

I'm anticipating that some of my students might ask similar questions,
and I don't yet have sufficient understanding to untie what seems to
me a indissoluable logical knot.  I look forward to reading whatever
correction or redirection will be forthcoming regarding my inquiry.
Thank you in advance for your assistance and consideration.

T. Ross Leasure
Dept. of English
Salisbury University
Salisbury MD 21801

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