[Milton-L] Re: the parable as a moralideal

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at smith.edu
Sat Feb 20 15:07:05 EST 2010

"Hell counts against the character of God, since He is, presumably, its creator." 
(a) I think it's a mistake to say that "Yahweh," "God," and all the other names of this person (see Dionysius the Areopagite) owe their reference to an original dubbing of the general form "I hereby name you X." "God" is not a name like "Julius Caesar."
(b) There's only one alternative semantics for the name "God": it must be short for a definite description, e.g., "the being that has perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect knowledge." (See Epicurus' argument for atheism.)
(c) If so, Hell (defined as a place of eternal punishment created by God) implies that there's nothing that satisfies the description encapsulated in the name God ("being that has perfect goodness). The name comes out as a nonreferential term like "The Tooth Fairy." Given that nonreferentiality, the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist. The upshot: Hell counts against God's EXISTENCE. 
Qualification: Hell counts against God's existence on one condition: my tacit assumption about the evil of eternal punishment has to be correct. (By the way, Adam appeals to the same assumption.) I think it's correct, but I owe Milton an argument to that effect. (As far as I know, M owes me an argument to the contrary -- in PL or elsewhere in the corpus.)

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