Wickedness: A Philosophical Essay

Midgley, Mary

Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984

pp. 136 - 138

Midgley thinks Satan is a libertarian: he has exalted liberty over all else. He has what Elizabeth Anscombe calls the ‘intact liberty in the unsubmissiveness of my will.’ He wants (p. 137) “liberty to rule others, to have one’s own kingdom.” Relevant questions to him–which he himself sees–are “Is your dignity really more important than your entire happiness, along with that of all of you followers? And if so, why?” Problem: Satan has genuine grandeur, but also fault. The Romantics make the willfulness, the fault, part of the grandeur! For them “courage and independence are the only significant virtues!” (P. 138) Satan’s motives are familiar: “Their centre is the violent hatred and rejection of all that seems to be superior to oneself, and their familiar names are pride and envy.”