[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
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)
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


First published: 07/05/2020

[3.7.1] Suhrawardi on Presence and Knowledge of Particulars

The Persian Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi (1154–1191 AD) was the founder of the ‘Illuminationist’ (ishraqi) philosophical tradition. In the works Talwīḥāt and al-Mashāriʿ wa-l-muṭāraḥāt:

  • he criticized the Avicennan peripatetic epistemology (see [3.3.3] and [3.3.6]) because that rules out the God’s knowledge of particulars, even God’s knowledge of itself (see [3.3.2])
  • and proposed a theory of knowledge which includes the knowledge of the self and other particular objects, based on the phenomena of apperception and presence
  • self awareness, knowledge of the self is a necessary basis of all knowledge.

In his opinion, this kind of knowledge is superior to the one based on intellection.

Suhrawardi’s theory of knowledge is presented in the following OntoUML diagram:

Suhrawardi on knowledge and presence
SubjectSubject is entity capable of knowledge, like a human or God.relates to ObjectOfKnowledge
ObjectOfKnowledgeObject of knowledge
UniversalUniversalis subkind of ObjectOfKnowledge
ParticularParticularis subkind of ObjectOfKnowledge
KnowledgeSuhrawardī’s “concept of knowledge […] is capable of making sense of a subject’s simultaneous knowledge both of itself and other objects, and allows for both particular and universal objects to be apprehended the same subject.” (Kauka)mediates between Subject and ObjectOfKnowledge
FacultyFaculty is an inherent mental power.is subkind of Particular
IntellectionSuhrawardi “also mentions an argument against Avicenna’s idea, familiar from the Talwīḥāt, that if the immaterial human soul’s proper mode of cognition is intellection of universals, it cannot be aware of itself as a particular entity.” (Kauka)
Intellection is a conceptual, discursive and syllogistic knowledge using syllogistic (see [3.3.5]).
is subkind of Knowledge; mediates between Subject and Particular
ApperceptionApperception “is a type of knowledge that is self-evident, innate and unmediated through any type of abstraction or representation of forms, whether it be through an image, a form, a notion or an attribute of the self (Marcotte 2006) [is]a type of knowledge that is self-evident, innate and unmediated through any type of abstraction or representation of forms, whether it be through an image, a form, a notion or an attribute of the self (Marcotte 2006).
The perception of pain becomes paradigmatic of the type of apperception or awareness he envisions when discussion self- awareness as unmediated perception, i.e., a non-discursive, non-conceptual and non-propositional type of knowledge that, nonetheless, constitutes a mode of knowing distinct from discursive knowledge.” (Marcotte)
is subkind of Knowledge; mediates between Subject and Particular
SelfAwareness“Suhrawardī took self-awareness [shu‘ur bi-l-dhat] to be the epistemological basis on which the body and its faculties, and their actions and respective objects in turn, appear to the self-aware subject.”(Kauka)is subkind of Apperception; mediates between the Self and the Self as ObjectOfKnowledge
Apperception of faculties [‘ilm huduri] is based on the presence of faculties: “The subject’s presence to itself is the foundation for the presence of its faculties, and it is only by means of the faculties that objects of the subject’s operations by means of them are present to it.”(Kauka)is subkind of Apperception; mediates between the Self and the Faculty
Presence“It is not sufficient for perception that a physical process takes place in the organ of perception. The process has to be attended by the soul, or it has to be present [hudur] to the soul. In other words, what goes on in the organ of perception has to enter the field of presence constituted by the soul – that is, its experience – in the manner proper to the particular faculty in whose organ the process takes place. In itself, the soul is nothing but this field of presence, this first-personal experience, which is entered by various contents that are thereby made present.”(Kauka)characterizes Apperception


  • Marcotte, Roxanne, “Suhrawardi”The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • Marcotte, Roxanne, “Suhrawardī’s apperception of the self in light of Avicenna”, Transcendent Philosophy 1, 1-22 London Academy of Iranian Studies
  • Kaukua, Jari, “Suhrawardī’s knowledge as presence in context”. Studia Orientalia 114, Helsinki 2013

First published: 26/03/2020