Monday, 24 July 2017

Omnipotence And Aesthetics

An author is omniscient and omnipotent in relation to his characters. He can decide exactly whether or when they live and die. However, the author is bound by aesthetic considerations. Usually, the hero of a novel does not die on page 1! - unless, maybe, the rest of the text is going to be a series of flashbacks? It is difficult to delineate precisely what can or cannot happen but there are such rules nevertheless.

SM Stirling's Artos has the backing of God or a god. Is that deity omnipotent in relation to human affairs? An omnipotent creator from nothing of everything other than himself would be able to control every event. In battle, an arrow or spear would strike Artos only if such a creator decided that it should do so. The creator would be like the author of a novel. A lesser degree of "omnipotence" might just mean the ability to do whatever is possible according to the most fundamental laws of a given universe. Nevertheless, that would surely be enough to ensure Artos' success in every struggle and endeavour? Would such omnipotence, if it exists, negate drama? See Virtual Omnipotence.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    This touches on difficult questions of free will, divine foreknowledge, necessity, etc. It's my belief that intelligent incarnate beings like the human race do have free will. Nor do I believe this to be contradicted by God's foreknowledge, because He does not compell to do THIS, rather than THAT. An analogy I sometimes use is of my discovering a plot to rob a bank. My "foreknowledge" of the contemplated robbery does not force the criminals to rob the bank. They remained free to rob or not rob the bank.


    1. Sean,
      I agree that neither foreknowledge nor transtemporal omniscience negates free-will but I think that other factors do negate it but we have been over this ground before.