An Augustinian Enigma

Abstract
In book eight of ’De trinitate’ Augustine of Hippo proposes two ways of coming to a vision of God, which have baffled me all my years of teaching Augustine. In the second of these he tells us to take "this good" and "that good" and to set aside "this" and "that" and promises that in doing so one will see God. Scholarly literature proved quite unhelpful in understanding what Augustine had in mind, especially since this procedure seems to presuppose that God, the subsistent good, is present in particular good things and merely has to be unwrapped or unveiled in order for one to see the ’good’ itself that is God. A clue to understanding what the bishop of Hippo had in mind can be found in his inversion of John’s claim in 1 John 4:8 to "Love is God". Other Latin fathers follow Augustine in this inversion, and Prosper of Aquitaine generalizes it for all the virtues or excellences. If one bears in mind the Plotinian doctrine of the integral omnipresence of such virtues or excellences, each
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Mary T. Clark (2005). De Trinitate. In Eleonore Stump & Norman Kretzmann (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Augustine. Cambridge Univ Pr. 91--102.
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