Sunday, January 11, 2015

God's Socratic Method

It seems as if Infinite Wisdom delighted in adopting with human beings the process known as the Socratic Method, by which the most difficult truths are easily elicited from the lips of illiterate persons and of children; the secret simply consisting of a few interrogatives skilfully arranged in a certain order. In this way, I believe, does God act towards His creatures. He ordains that things which are marvellous, and wholly at variance with their modes of thinking, should happen before the eyes of men, that being struck with wonder at the novelty, they may feel prompted to direct their attention to investigating the hidden causes of things. He does not wish to say everything Himself, because, being good, He does not wish His beloved creature, man, to remain idle and inert, or to be deprived of the noble gratification and merit which he can gain by instructing himself in many things. To this end, He has endowed man with the faculty of knowing, that he may enjoy the honest pleasure of developing knowledge for himself, of being in part his own teacher.

Antonio Rosmini, Theodicy, volume 1, page 7.


  1. vojtas3:25 PM


  2. branemrys9:24 AM

    I usually have a few. About anything particular in the passage?

  3. vojtas2:52 PM

    Do you agree with his claims in "He ordains... He does not wish...," or what's your assessment?

  4. branemrys4:05 PM

    Since it's pretty clear that marvelous things do happen before the eyes of men, as well as things at variance with our ways of thinking, the only question would be why. And since Rosmini is drawing on the tradition, since Plato and Aristotle, that wonder is the start of serious intellectual inquiry, which is certainly true, the first claim seems entirely reasonable. As for the second, it's parallel to arguments for why it makes sense for us to have causal power and for why it makes sense for us to have free will, so it seems reasonable, too. And this is especially so given that the last sentence, to which all of this is leading, is also reasonable: we are, in fact, set up in such a way that we are all partially our own teachers (also a point that goes back to both Plato and Aristotle), so this is at least one end or natural aim of our mind -- the only further question is whether it is a sign of the completion of our nature (in which case we can say God has it in view) or its corruption; and it doesn't seem reasonable to say that it is a failing or corruption of any kind.

  5. vojtas4:11 PM

    Interesting, thanks.


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