[Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Mon Jan 12 23:49:05 EST 2009


I am afraid I misunderstood Jeffery Hodges' post. Here is a response to
his question, for what it's worth.

God denies that Adam's decision to disobey will be "disposed" (i.e.,
determined) EITHER by God's decree OR by his "high foreknowledge" (PL
3.114-16). He goes on immediately to emphasize the point, as follows:
"If I foreknew [their fault], / Foreknowledge had no influence on their
fault, / Which had no less prov'd certain unforeknown." In other words,
Milton simply denies that God's knowledge causes the objects of
knowledge, or even that God's knowledge is necessary to the existence of
its objects. If it is a fact that Adam will freely decide to fall, then
the decision will "prove certain" even if (per absurdum) there is no
such thing as foreknowledge (where "prove certain" means "turn out to be
the actual fact of the matter," NOT "turn out to be metaphysically
necessary"). Neither Arminius nor Molina is at play here — only
Boethius.

In particular, there is no appeal to scientia media in these lines, and
indeed I think it can be shown that the counterfactual truths of
Molina's scientia media rule out libertarian free will of the kind that
Milton favors.

It may appear that God can FOREknow a future free act only if he knows
it via its present CAUSES, in which case the future act is CAUSED and
not free; but Milton's God knows all facts (past, present or future)
directly — that is, via themselves; he is not limited to reasoning
about facts from evidence, like a finite being forecasting the kindling
of the match from seeing it scraped against the side of the matchbook.


More information about the Milton-L mailing list