Dr. Burns will lecture on, "The Oracle to Laius, OR: If God prophesies that you will do something really bad, is it your fault?"
If the gods predict something will result from one person’s action, is that person responsible for its occurrence? How much do the gods know, and how does their foreknowledge of human affairs relate to human autonomy? When conducting thought-experiments about these questions, Hellenistic and Roman philosophers drew on a favorite scenario from Greek mythology: the ‘Oracle to Laius.’ Here, Apollo tells the king Laius what will happen if he begets a child: the offspring, Oedipus, will kill his father and marry his mother. The case of the Oracle to Laius was taken up by four major, ancient thinkers—Stoic, Aristotelian, Platonist, and Christian—each of whom used the story to expound a different view about who is responsible when a god predicts what will come of human deeds. The Oracle to Laius thus presents us with a wonderful set of evidence for exploring the transformation of philosophy in the first centuries CE, particularly as regarding prophecy, responsibility, fate, and how all these things can start to look different once you bring the Bible into it.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 9:00am to 10:00amVirtual Event
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