Volume 75, Issue 4, Fall 2001
Barry A. David
Divine Foreknowledge in De civitate Dei 5.9
The Philosophical Value of Augustine’s Polemic
It is commonly agreed that Augustine's discussion of divine foreknowledge in DcD 5.9 is distinguished by its anti-Ciceronian polemic, but no one has analyzed the philosophical structure of this polemic to determine if it is compelling. I argue that Augustine's presentation has significant philosophical merit for two reasons. First, Augustine's rigorous application of the principle, shared with Cicero, that "nothing occurs unless it is preceded by an efficient cause" is capable of answering
forcefully one of the chief difficulties that Cicero poses against the possibility of divine omniscience of human choice-making. Second, Augustine's presentation contains the potential to answer persuasively the epistemological problem that Cicero states against divine foreknowledge in his De Jato and De divinatione but which Augustine ignores in DcD 5.9.