Molinism and divine aseity : a review of ontological commitment

Pretorius, Richard Matthew (2017-03)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The doctrine of Molinism seeks to reconcile God's sovereign predestination with humanity's free will by postulating a middle knowledge between God's natural knowledge and God's free knowledge. God's natural knowledge is taken to exist prior to the divine decree and consists of all necessary truths. Through this knowledge, God comprehends the possible so that God knows all ways in which things could be. God's free knowledge exists after the divine decree and is thought of as the knowledge of contingent truths which God determines by creating our world. The Molinist's proposed middle knowledge slots in between God's natural and free knowledge, but before the divine decree. Through God's middle knowledge, God knows all contingent truths which exist apart from God's control. It is through God's middle knowledge that God comes to know how any free creature would act were they to be left free in any specific set of circumstances. By combining natural knowledge and middle knowledge, the Molinist believes that God is empowered to select and create a feasible world in which all events which transpire do so because God created a world in which they would. Molinism postulating middle knowledge presents a potential problem: if God's middle knowledge exists prior to the divine decree it must take the form of prevolitional and contingent subjunctive conditionals. If these subjunctive conditionals, taking the form of propositional statements, exist in the metaphysically heavyweight sense, then God would have to draw from outside of the triune Godhead in order to complete middle knowledge. This would seem to undercut God's aseity by making God something other than wholly selfexistent and independent. To address this issue, ontological commitment with respect to abstract objects is investigated. Three broad approaches to abstract objects, namely realism, arealism and anti-realism, are presented. In encountering the platonist's realist view of abstract objects, the Molinist must either defeat the Singular Term argument or find a way to affirm that abstract objects do exist - but as entities which depend upon God in some way or another. To this end, non-platonic realist views and anti-realist views are investigated, both from the perspective of their philosophical content and their theological suitability.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doktrine van Molinisme poog om God se soewereine uitverkiesing met die mensdom se vrye wil te versoen deur die postuleer van 'n middel kennis tussen God se natuurlike kennis en God se vrye kennis. God se natuurlike kennis is aangeneem om voor die Goddelike dekreet te bestaan, en bestaan uit alle nodige waarhede. Deur middel van hierdie kennis, het God begrip van die moontlike, sodat God kennis van alle maniere waarop dinge kan wees het. Die gratis kennis van God bestaan na die Goddelike dekreet, en is beskou as die kennis van voorwaardelike waarhede wat God bepaal, deur die skep van ons wêreld. Die Molinis se voorgestelde middel kennis bestaan tussen God se natuurlike en vrye kennis, maar voor die Goddelike dekreet. Deur God se middel kennis, weet God van alle voorwaardelike waarhede wat uitmekaar God se beheer bestaan. Dit is deur God se middel wete dat God kan weet hoe 'n vrye wesens sou optree as hulle vry gelaat word in enige spesifieke stel omstandighede. Deur die kombinasie van natuurlike kennis en middel kennis, glo die Molinis dat God by magte is om 'n uitvoerbare wêreld te kies en te skep waarin al die gebeure is so omdat God 'n wêreld geskep waarin hulle sou gebeur. Molinisme se postuleer van middel kennis bied 'n potensiële probleem aan: as God se middel kennis voor die Goddelike dekreet bestaan, moet dit die vorm van voorwilsvermoë en afhanklike subjunktief voorwaardelikes neem. As hierdie subjunktief voorwaardelikes, wat die vorm van proposisionele state neem, in die metafisies swaargewigte sin bestaan, sal God buite die Drie-enige Godheid moet trek ten einde van die voltooi van middel kennis. Dit lyk of God se Goddelike "aseity" ondermyn is deur God te verstaan as iets anders as geheel selfbestaande en onafhanklik. Om hierdie probleem aan te spreek, is ontologiese verbintenis met betrekking tot abstrakte voorwerpe ondersoek. Drie breë benaderings tot abstrakte voorwerpe, naamlik realisme, arealism en anti-realisme, word aangebied. In benadering tot die platoniese realistiese siening van abstrakte voorwerpe, moet die Molinis óf verslaan die enkelvoud termyn argument, of 'n manier vind om te bevestig dat abstrakte voorwerpe bestaan - maar as entiteite wat afhanklik van God op een of ander manier is. Vir hierdie doel, is nie-platoniese real-istiese en nie-realistiese sienings ondersoek, beide vanuit die perspektief van hul filosofiese inhoud en hul teologiese geskiktheid.

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