Divine Thoughts and the Corruption of the Will in Doctor Faustus
Keywords:Christopher Marlowe; Philosophy; Faustus; Thomas Aquinas; William of Ockham
In act 2 scene 1 of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, the title character professes that ‘hell is a fable’. But how could Faustus not believe in hell, standing in the presence of a devil that he himself only recently conjured? What is the philosophical difference in the play between ‘experience’, as Mephistopheles describes it, and Faustus’s lack of understanding on the state of his soul? This article discusses the controversy between Ockhamist and Thomist epistemology, and places Faustus within early modern debates concerning the status of knowledge and its effect on the soul’s search for God.
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