Reading Reaction to Richard Cross' Commentary on Duns Scotus' Stance on Free Will

Cross here critiques Scotus’ stance on Free Will and the Problem of Evil, especially comparing it to Augustine and Aquinas view on the subject. Scotus’ thoughts on God ability to punish someone after that person has freely chosen to commit evil are particularly interesting. The philosopher holds that God could will to not punish the soul that had knowingly and freely committed evil. This seems troubling when one holds the view that punishment is actually a good for the soul, as Aristotle did, for punishment allowed the soul to heal itself, exactly as a medicine cured a sick body. If God could do this, it seems to be the same as saying that God could do that which is not best for us. Scotus took this idea from Augustine’s phrase that “[God’s] turning his face from sin is the same as not holding a person to punishment.” I find Augustine’s phrase comforting, but Scotus’ corollary troubling. It seems good that God can mitigate our punishment for our benefit, but not so if that punishment is needed for our ultimate cure. Scotus ultimately backs this up by arguing that man’s natural state is a fallen one. It seems, therefore, that God can will not to punish us because it is not actually our fault. We were created with this fallen nature that leans towards sin. This does not clear up the problem of evil at all, because it seems to suggest that God can create a being that naturally is inclined to evil acts, a thought that is not compatible with the belief in an all powerful God.


Popular Posts