Divine Passibilism

I agree with Marcel Sarot in that this is the best way to characterize the passibilist position:

“(1) God’s feelings, or the quality of His inner life, can be influenced by the world, but only in a personal way, and not in a causal way. This means that God always remains Master of His own emotional life, that He never can be victim to an emotion. His emotions are always controlled by His will, which also means that they can never run counter to His perfect judgment, which always takes all relevant information into account. (2) God is immutable with respect to His moral character and His abilities. This means that God’s moral character sets limits within which God can have feelings and emotions: God can never have malevolent or unjust emotions. He is also immutable with respect to His abilities, which means that He can never be incapacitated by His feelings or emotions: His suffering can never detract from His omnipotence. (3) God can never be overwhelmed by suffering or by other negative emotions. The resources of happiness available to God are inexhaustible, which makes Him the happiest being in existence. His suffering is embedded in His happiness, not the other way around” (Sarot, God, Passibility and Corporeality, 67).

Categories: Quotes

Chester Delagneau

2 Responses to “Divine Passibilism”

  • Tom says:

    Hi Chester. Just found your site here. I’ve been exploring the (im)passibility debate for a while. I’m wondering…given your agreement with Sarot’s definition of passibility here, how do you align this with passibilism along the lines of Zagzebski’s omnisubjectivity which appears to argue that our subjective experiences (whatever they be) are experienced/reproduced within God, which seems to suggest a stronger form of passibilism than Sarot describes.


    • Chester Delagneau says:

      Hi Tom,

      Sorry for the late response. I don’t know why I’m not being notified when I receive a message on my blog. Anywho, re “omnisubjectivity,” I think you hit the nail on the head: Zagzebski’s passibilism is stronger, however, it may be too strong or to use Zagzebski’s words, “The problem is that [omnisubjectivity] might be too intimate to be possible.” Regardless, I think she makes an irrefutable case that it is at least possible for God to have 1st person and 3rd person knowledge of our mental states. I’ve actually written a paper on Omnisubjectivity and Passibility. In the paper, I argue two things: omnisubjectivity complements passibility and it offers a defeater to Weinandy’s rejoinder against passibility. I take seven logical steps to defend my conclusion: (1) offer a brief overview of the concept of impassibility and passibility, while qualifying both terms (2) summarize Zagzebski’s argument for the possibility of omnisubjectivity, (3) demonstrate how omnisubjectivity complements passibility, (4) state Weinandy’s rejoinder against passibility, (5) discuss how omnisubjectivity applies specifically to Jesus Christ suffering qua divine, and (6) offer omnisubjectivity as a defeater to Weinandy’s rejoinder against passibility.

      Click on the link below to enjoy your free copy.


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