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Chapter 8 - Intellectualist Accounts of the Angelic Fall

from Part III - Angelic Sin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2020

Tobias Hoffmann
Affiliation:
The Catholic University of America, Washington DC
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Summary

Chapters 8–10 constitute Part III, entitled “Angelic Sin,” which raises the issue of how rational agents can do evil under ideal psychological conditions. Chapter 8 is about intellectualist accounts of angelic sin. Since according to these accounts, the will acts as the intellect judges best, evil acts presuppose some cognitive deficiency: either an outright error, or some occurrent nonconsideration that keeps the intellect from making the correct judgment. Thus one difficulty faced by intellectualist thinkers is how the cognitive deficiency can come about – especially since most thinkers here discussed assume that angels are infallible prior to making an evil choice. Another difficulty concerns control of the act. It is assumed that while the angels’ good or evil choice was up to them, the content of their knowledge was not up to them. Aquinas’s solution is that knowledge does not predetermine the use of that knowledge, which is up to the will. By contrast, Godfrey of Fontaines argues that the choice of the angels is caused by the cognized object; he fails to explain, however, how his theory avoids cognitive determinism.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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