xavierrobles

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Molinism and Augustine's Compatabilism
« on: November 26, 2019, 10:52:00 pm »
Hello everyone! My name is Xavier and I'm currently an undergrad studying philosophy. I'm currently researching for my term paper in metaphysics that is primarily focused on Augustine's form of compatibilism and my thesis is to show that God's foreknowledge is compatible with human free will. I wanted to ask you guys a couple questions if you have any background with the material. However, I also wanted to introduce W.L.C. form of molinism in order to reply to an objection proposed by contemporary philosopher, Nelson Pike. Yet I don't know if I feel confident enough to share Molinism. I don't think I understand it well enough.

First question: Can someone give me a dumb it down version of molinism and middle knowledge?

Also, is molinism arguing for libertarian free will or a compatabilist' notion of free will?

If you are aware of Augustine's work, On Choice and Free Will, do you know if Augustine is talking about the libertarian notion of free will or the compatabilist? The reason I ask is because I want to make sure that I don't include W.L.C notion of free will if is different from Ausgutine's. That would then mean I'd be switching my definition of free will and that could be confusing.

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jayceeii

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Re: Molinism and Augustine's Compatabilism
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2019, 11:03:26 am »
xv: Augustine's form of compatibilism and my thesis is to show that God's foreknowledge is compatible with human free will.

jc: Your thesis is correct, but definitionally complicated. Entities who are responding to their senses as their motivation, cannot be called free, and their choices are not those of free will. So to say “human free will” is an oxymoron. This is something the religions of the East admit, theorizing that the sadhus arise in ignorance, and try to attain knowledge.

If you want to demand that grasping (mindless) choices be defined as free in some way, admitting human choices arise from conditioning but insisting these have a degree of freedom, the discussion can proceed on this limited basis. For instance a person might be admitted to both Dartmouth and Yale, then seem to make a free choice based on a reasoning process of pros and cons. Or he might choose one wife, denying other women. Ultimately these are choices of selfish interest from the prison of the ego, not really free. The rational faculty is functioning in privately reactive modes, not objectively facing all realities inner and outer. Ramakrishna referred to such individuals at the “bound souls.”

If you want to talk about God’s foreknowledge it is urgent to increase the number of examples. This is a fault of every discussion of Molinism I’ve seen, they cough up at best one or two examples, but this skews the discussion into unreal and imaginary zones. Specifically you should be asking if God knows which way the tiger’s jaw will turn as it rends its prey, or whether it will use its right or left paw to pin the prey upon the ground. Then we are talking about the bound or ignorant type of freedom, which is not truly free, and the human mind can be likened to this. God isn’t able to predict all its evil motions.

That isn’t to say God doesn’t have a good idea of what evil the souls may do, but their viciousness, which is born of their actual independence, always surprises. In general discussions of Molinism presume men’s thoughts must be good, but this presumes too much. The human thought process is dark, and not compatible with God’s thinking, as the Bible did say a few times, for instance, “Your thoughts are not my thoughts, says the Lord.” The question you are asking here is whether God knows all men will do, and whether they can still be called free if He does. So what do you say about the tiger’s jaw?

xv: Can someone give me a dumb it down version of molinism and middle knowledge?

jc: Molinism is an attempt to categorize or comprehend God’s knowledge. As I interpret it, God’s Natural Knowledge is about the limitations of creation, for instance souls can only be made in such-and-such a way, and after this they grow immensely slowly and have various troubles and limitations. God’s Free Knowledge is about what He is going to do within these limits that He knows. God’s predictions of what the souls will do is called Middle Knowledge, though whether it’s a prediction or knowledge is in question.

I’ve found the discussions of Molinism or Middle Knowledge complex, but mostly specious. In general the fault is in a model of God that demands absolute omniscience. Or you could say perhaps there is a sliding balance, that although God made the creatures really free, His knowledge is still great enough to encapsulate everything that they will do. A lot depends on the idea of what God is like, and unfortunately, as Jesus declared, no man comes to the Father but through the Son, which is to say only the Lord can speak authoritatively about the nature of the Invisible God. Molinism attempts to circumvent this, and this is where it becomes specious. Men claiming to know God, reveal ignorance.

I think you will find my model of the tiger’s jaw best, that the creatures are really free and this means God cannot predict all of their specific evil, although His foreknowledge encapsulates much of it in a general sense. Then were men to purify their minds, as Hinduism declared can be done, a warmer relation with God might ensue, as between friends. Though seldom the case among the human clan, a good friend can predict much of what his friend will do, including which school he’d attend or even which woman belongs with him as his wife. Once friends can predict friends to a large extent, they can understand God is like this but greater, His knowledge encapsulating virtually everything.

xv: Also, is molinism arguing for libertarian free will or a compatibilist' notion of free will?

jc: The distinction between libertarian and compatibilist freedom, appears to be related to what I have been describing, the distinction between the free and bound souls. Compatibilist freedom is following desire, and the compatibilists argue liberterian freedom to be incoherent and unreal. That is because they do not experience freedom. In my terms, compatibilist freedom is the movement of the tiger’s jaw. It’s a degree of freedom, in that the tiger could choose to chomp either left of right, but it isn’t truly free.

xv: If you are aware of Augustine's work, On Choice and Free Will, do you know if Augustine is talking about the libertarian notion of free will or the compatabilist?

jc: I believe Augustine to be a bound soul, and so I’d expect this tome to remain in the limited compatibilist zones, for even should he use the word libertarian he won’t know what it means. I believe Craig to be a free soul, but so far placing himself under limits. Hoping Craig will light his torch, is one of the main reasons I hang around at this forum.

The philosophy of Molinism more or less falls apart once you notice counterfactuals are more of a living thing, and not limited to one or two cramped examples. Everyone’s life is awash in counterfactuals, all the time. Molinism posits counterfactuals arising in isolated and singular cases, asking whether God would know what a man would do if placed in a different world, for example. But today is a different world than yesterday, and each man faces a big range of choices which were counterfactual to him yesterday.

Another huge flaw in Molinism is failure to examine the decision-making process. This flaw appeared from framers of the philosophy who were compatibilist, i.e. desire-driven, therefore they had little insight into the true freedom where objective facts are compared. This is the crux of the question of freedom, since even angels make decisions based on their experience. As it plays out in eternity, they are found making different decisions although their backgrounds and fundamental spiritual knowledge is similar, in a huge range of possible good actions that expands without limit. Humans choose between good and evil, with a small number of choices. Angels choose from unlimited regions of good.