Molina, Luis de

A leading figure in sixteenth-century Iberian scholasticism, Molina was one of the most controversial thinkers in the history of Catholic thought. In keeping with the strongly libertarian account of human free choice that marked the early Jesuit theologians, Molina held that God's causal influence on free human acts does not by its intrinsic nature uniquely determine what those acts will be or whether they will be good or evil. Because of this, Molina asserted against his Dominican rivals that God's comprehensive providential plan for the created world and infallible foreknowledge of future contingents do not derive just from the combination of his antecedent "natural" knowledge of metaphysically necessary truths and his "free" knowledge of the causal influence - both natural (general concurrence) and supernatural (grace) - by which he wills to cooperate with free human acts. Rather, in addition to God's natural knowledge, Molina posited a distinct kind of antecedent divine knowledge, dubbed "middle" knowledge, by which God knows pre-volitionally, i.e., prior to any free decree of his own will regarding contingent beings, how any possible rational creature would in fact freely choose to act in any possible circumstances in which it had the power to act freely. And on this basis Molina proceeded to forge his controversial reconciliation of free choice with the Catholic doctrines of grace, divine foreknowledge, providence, and predestination. In addition to his work in dogmatic theology, Molina was also an accomplished moral and political philosopher who wrote extensive and empirically well-informed tracts on political authority, slavery, war, and economics.
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