Archive | March, 2013

Sympathy for the Devil?

A question that Christian children sometimes (and Christian adults too seldom) ask is whether, if they should pray for their enemies, that means that they should pray for Satan – i.e., pray for Satan’s eventual reformation and redemption.

Sad Satan

The traditional answer is that angels’ mode of existence, between time and eternity, is such that their choices do not take place in successive sequence but rather permeate their entire existence and so are irrevocable; hence an angel who chooses sin has no possibility of redemption, meaning that praying for Satan would be pointless.

But what exactly is this mode (“aeveternity”) intermediate between time and eternity supposed to be? Aquinas reviews several accounts of aeveternity and proposes his own. The problem is that, perhaps apart from one option that Aquinas dismisses as incoherent, none of the accounts seems incompatible with angels’ choices being revocable. In any case, if one can petition God, whose choices are supposed to be timeless – and if Catholics petition saints, whose choices are supposed to be aeviternal – then apparently trying to influence the choices of nontemporal agents is kosher, so why should Satan’s nontemporal character be a bar to hoping for him to mend his ways?

This is a purely hypothetical debate for me, since I don’t believe in Satan (nor in the coherence of a timeless agent’s interacting with temporal events, for that matter), but it’s interesting nonetheless. (I implicitly took a side in a story I wrote in high school.)

When Rosemary Faileth

From the Wikipedia page on Much Ado About Nothing, this description of one of the play’s two most dramatic (and, one would have thought, memorable) events:

Beatrice then asks Benedick to slay Claudio as proof of his devotion, since he has slandered her kinswoman. Benedick is horrified and denies her request.

Strange, that’s not how I remember it.

North By Left

Today and tomorrow I’m attending the Auburn Philosophy Department’s 5th annual conference, this one on “Theoretical Agency: Issues at the Intersections of Freedom and Belief”; schedule here.

After that I’m off to Hanover College, Indiana, at the invitation of John Ahrens, to give two talks, one on Milton Friedman’s critique of corporate social responsibility (for my general take whereon, see here), and one on free-market radical leftism (scroll to the bottom of the poster for what some may consider a tincture of irony).

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