[4.1.1] Eriugena on Free Will and Predestination

Irish monk and philosopher John Scottus Eriugena (800? – 877? AD) in its work “De divina praedestinatione” debates the theory of the double predestination (see [2.5.6]) by proposed by Augustine and sustained by Gottschalk. He argues for simple predestination (for Salvation), because:

  • God is one all-good substance, and as such, can not have knowledge of evil. His knowing is His acting; he can not predestine humans to damnation. He wants all humans to be saved.
  • God’s atemporal foreknowledge can only be good in itself; foreknowledge does not mean predetermination.
  • Humans have free will, can choose good and evil, but for choosing the good they have to accept the divine grace.

Eriugena’s theory of simple predestination is presented in the following OntoUML diagram:

Eriugena on free will and predestination
ClassDescriptionRelations
God“Eriugena rejects any divine predestination to evil by an appeal to God’s unity, transcendence, and goodness. […] Eriugena argues in De divina praedestinatione that ‘God, being perfectly good, wants all humans to be saved, and does not predestine souls to damnation.’ Since God is outside time, He cannot be said to fore-know or to pre-destine, terms that involve temporal predicates. Furthermore, if God’s being is His wisdom, God can be said to have but a single knowledge and hence a ‘double’ predestination cannot be ascribed to Him.” (Moran, Guiu 2019)provides Grace; wants Salvation
Grace“divine grace as an aid to the free-will to choose the good” (Moran, 1989)
SalvationSalvation
DamnationDamnation is, “when the imperfect judgment chooses sin, it consigns itself to darkness, and the punishment for sin is nothing other than the sin itself. […] Punishment is simply the absence of beatitude, and the sinful soul remains trapped after death in the region of fire, the fourth element of the material world” (Moran, 1989)
FreeWillThe human soul has free will: “For God did not create in man a captive will but a free one, and that freedom remained after sin” (De divina praedestinatione, 4.6).characterizes FreeChoice
FreeChoiceHumans have free choice (liberum arbitrium) even in the present, fallen condition.
ChooseGoodHumans souls are able to choose good if they accept the help of the Divine Grace. subkind of FreeChoice; accepts Grace; results Salvation
ChooseSinHuman souls damn themselves through their own sinful choices: “Sin, death, unhappiness are not from God.”subkind of FreeChoice; results Damnation

Sources

First published: 07/05/2020

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