„Immediate are the Acts of God, more swift than time or motion.“Die literarische Adaption der augustinischen Vorsehungs- und Willenstheorie in John Miltons Paradise Lost

Abstract

In his epic Paradise Lost, John Milton aims at a philosophically and theologically sound theodicy in order to “justify the ways of God to men”1. Milton’s approach has been criticised for creating an unsolvable tension between God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will and responsibility. The article wants to show that this criticism turns out to be unjustified if the philosophical basis behind the epic is thoroughly examined. Milton draws heavily on St. Augustine’s ontology: Every kind of being depends on its intrinsic goodness insofar as it really is what it is by nature. God himself is the ultimate goodness: Therefore he is not subject to change, but transcends space and time. In his perfection, he cannot lack any kind of knowledge, but knows all things in an atemporal manner, without depriving men and women of their capability of free choice and action, for these are the distinct features that constitute the goodness of human nature. The crucial question of the article is why, according to Augustine and Milton, God’s foreknowledge should not at all be confused with fated determinism.

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