A theist caught in the paradoxes of free will

Can a theist believe in God’s omniscience&omnipotence and in free will? I have argued in other posts that one can think in a compatibilist way (because God wants to be freely loved) and that this entails that no punishment/ban from God’s presence can be eternal. Here I would like to test it in the case of Vedānta Deśika/Veṅkaṭanātha, a Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedāntin who also wrote Mīmāṃsā works.

From a Mīmāṃsā standpoint, free will is a fundamental presupposal, since Vedic prescriptions are in a dialectical relation with one’s desire (rāga): one always decides on the basis of the one or the other. That rāga itself might lie beyond one’s free will is an idea never discussed by Mīmāṃsā authors, possibly because they are interested in the phenomenology of free will and not in its ontology.

Can the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta point of view agree with this perspective? On the one hand, one might think that the omnipotency of God as conceived by Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta authors leads back to the initial problem. On the other, according to Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta human beings are nothing but specifications (viśeṣas) of the only existing reality, God Himself. In some forms of Vaiṣṇavism (e.g., in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism), God can freely choose to self-delude Himself as part of His play (līlā). Thus, the child-Kṛṣṇa can willfully forget His omnipotence in order to enjoy His mother’s protection.

Can one conceive the freedom enjoyed by human beings also as a case of self-delimitation?

Further thoughts on free will in Indian Philosophy can be read here.



Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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