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Robert Harris

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Molinism & Personhood
« on: March 18, 2011, 05:36:57 pm »
I feel like I know who I am. What I would do in certain situations, particularly those I have already thought about. I have always thought that people are not strictly blank slates (tabula rasa) when they are born and grow but that environment still plays a heavy impact on who a person is. Usually when I think of Molinism and how *I* would act I imagine the me of right now. Since I think of me as the person I am now (spoiled American, free-market, Christian, introverted, etc.) I find it hard to think of how this fits into God's foreknowledge. Thinking about this has caused me to think that maybe my conception of what it means to be a person is wrong (that what I named above are secondary traits and not primary and something else makes up my primary traits).

Finding it difficult to articulate, but what I am trying to get at is, on the Molinist view, who is God thinking of when He decided where I would go? I wouldn't doubt for a second that He knows me far better than I'll ever know myself, but what if He decided to make me a 1st century Jew. Would I have been one of the people that followed Christ? What if He placed me in some tribe that a missionary just got to? Or is it that conditions are such that only if I was a caucasian American born in a middle/low class family in Florida, lost sight in my left eye at ~6 (long story, I think very influential on my life), would I accept Christ at the age of 23?

I hope anyone reading this can make sense of what I am trying to put out there so there can be some discussion. Feel free to ask any questions of clarifications to understand my confusion, lol!

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jayceeii

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Re: Molinism & Personhood
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2020, 02:48:03 pm »
rh: I feel like I know who I am.

jc: But you don’t know anyone else. To put it another way, all begin with the self-conception to try to form ideas about others. They’re moving around, and what is their motive? You ask yourself what your motive would be, to act in such a way, as the first answer. To form realistic ideas about others depends on maintaining mental regions for what is not like yourself, but these are always necessarily done in how it relates to yourself. The truly foreign is incomprehensible, hence angels are unable to see God.

rh: What I would do in certain situations, particularly those I have already thought about.

jc: This is Molinism indeed, the counterfactuals, but Molinism is weak in not noticing what everyone is going to do tomorrow is also a counterfactual. Circumstances will arise that are new to you, and right now you can only predict how you will react. Your friends might also have a prediction, but God may have the best prediction, as you’ve surmised.

rh: I have always thought that people are not strictly blank slates (tabula rasa) when they are born and grow but that environment still plays a heavy impact on who a person is.

jc: It’s actually become stunning to me to notice no one has been able to notice this or been talking about it, including in the religions where they believe there are tendencies. I think people with tendencies are too overwhelmed by their own situation, to see the tendencies of others clearly. But a pure soul should be able to notice impure tendencies.

rh: Usually when I think of Molinism and how *I* would act I imagine the me of right now. Since I think of me as the person I am now (spoiled American, free-market, Christian, introverted, etc.) I find it hard to think of how this fits into God's foreknowledge. Thinking about this has caused me to think that maybe my conception of what it means to be a person is wrong (that what I named above are secondary traits and not primary and something else makes up my primary traits).

jc: Indeed, this type of discussion has been stunningly absent in religious discourse. I’ve taken to talking about the “intrinsic traits,” by which I mean the traits that abide with a person across long stretches of time. As you say there is a birth influence, but the intrinsic traits are above or beyond this influence. To really know a person would mean you can form a mental model about his or her intrinsic traits. It is a skill very difficult to master.

rh: Finding it difficult to articulate, but what I am trying to get at is, on the Molinist view, who is God thinking of when He decided where I would go?

jc: I tend to dismiss Molinism as generally lacking in reality, a vision of an empty God. A point I can add to the above is that a mind that is twisted by greed and anger, might be too shallow to manifest proper intrinsic traits. Such people are known only by their desires, and as they think about themselves it is only the desires they see, nothing deeper.

rh: I wouldn't doubt for a second that He knows me far better than I'll ever know myself, but what if He decided to make me a 1st century Jew. Would I have been one of the people that followed Christ?

jc: The Christians of today are not following Christ! They are merely crying, “Lord, Lord,” but Jesus responds, “Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” Yet I suspect Jesus wants friends rather than followers, giving up on former promises.

rh: What if He placed me in some tribe that a missionary just got to?

jc: The missionaries are a curious bunch, enduring privation now in hopes of a reward in Heaven later. Yet all they drag with them is a formula, and no one is saved by a formula.

rh: Or is it that conditions are such that only if I was a caucasian American born in a middle/low class family in Florida, lost sight in my left eye at ~6 (long story, I think very influential on my life), would I accept Christ at the age of 23?

jc: I think the last thing a profound person wants to hear if he has been injured is someone saying, “I’m sorry,” with that vain look of shallow sorrow passing briefly across their brow as they pretend to care, and yet this is the first thing any human does before they turn their back on you. Friendships should be deeper than the body and its woes.

rh: I hope anyone reading this can make sense of what I am trying to put out there so there can be some discussion. Feel free to ask any questions of clarifications to understand my confusion, lol!

jc: Traits that can be described are not intrinsic traits, for instance as listed above, “spoiled American, free-market, Christian, introverted, etc.” Language is categorical, but personalities are unique, therefore words while they can go some distance to expressing knowledge, fail in the end. It follows that to form a mental model for someone’s intrinsic traits must involve creating a “private language” using nonverbal mental forms to describe them to yourself, so that you recognize them and can guess how they will act. This is why it is so tremendously difficult, and humans can only think in object-models.