This paper discusses how to apply a collective decision model of the principle of voluntary informed consent in African communitarian culture, in a culturally sensitive way, in order to protect research candidates from potential exploitations and abuses. Dismissing cultural and ethical skepticism surrounding the global application of the principle of voluntary informed consent, the paper ultimately concludes that international collaboration on diagnostic and therapeutic medical research in Africa, especially HIV vaccine trials, is a moral imperative.
This paper weaves together a number of separate strands each relating to an aspect of Wittgenstein’s PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS. The first strand introduces his radical and incoherent idea of a private object. Wittgenstein in § 258 and related passages is not investigating a perfectly ordinary notion of first person privacy; but his critics have treated his question, whether a private language is possible, solely in terms of their quite separate question of how our ordinary sensation terms can be understood, in a (...) philosophical context, to acquire meaning. Yet it is no part of his intention to demonstrate logically that ordinary sensations are not intrinsically meaningful. This is a tempting yet misleading picture, the picture also expressed through the idea of Augustine’s child who is conceptually articulate prior to learning how to talk. This picture lies behind the born Crusoe, an idea at the centre of the dichotomy between language as essentially shared and essentially shareable, a dichotomy considered here to result from a misconception of two quite separate but related aspects of Wittgenstein’s treatment of following a rule. The notion of a misleading picture, in both its pre-theoretical and philosophical aspects, also plays a crucial role in a treatment of Saul Kripke’s well-known “Postscript: Wittgenstein and Other Minds.”. (shrink)
One way of viewing the organizing structure of the Confessions is to see it as an engagement with various texts at different phases of St. Augustine’s life. In the early books of the Confessions, Augustine describes the disordered state that made him unable to read any text (sacred or profane) properly. Yet following his conversion his entire orientation— not only to texts but also to reality as a whole—changes. This essay attempts to trace the winding paths that lead (...) up to Augustine’s conversion through his various encounters with texts (and individuals) and to examine his struggles both intellectual and spiritual along the way. In the final section, I bring Augustine into conversation with Hans-Georg Gadamer in order to highlight a number of hermeneutical continuities shared by premoderns and postmoderns. After comparing premodern and modern hermeneutical orientations, I conclude that Augustine’s approach to Scripture contrasts sharply with a (strict) modern grammatico-historical biblical methodology, whereas premodern hermeneutics share a number of continuities with Gadamerian and postmodern emphases. Lastly, in light of Gadamer’s famous statement, ‘all of life is hermeneutics’, I suggest that perhaps we could read Augustine’s life as affirming this claim. By taking a close look at Augustine’s story, I will attempt to show how pre-judgments, interpretative traditions and a dynamic/analogical rather than a static/univocal understanding of text (and reality) decisively affected his spiritual and intellectual vision—observations Gadamer would no doubt heartily affirm. (shrink)
Augustine famously defends the justice of killing in certain public contexts such as just wars. He also claims that private citizens who intentionally kill are guilty of murder, regardless of their reasons. Just as famously, Augustine seems to prohibit lying categorically. Analyzing these features of his thought and their connections, I argue that Augustine is best understood as endorsing the justice of lying in certain public contexts, even though he does not explicitly do so. Specifically, I show (...) that parallels between his treatments of killing and lying along with his “agent (auctor)–instrument (minister)” distinction, in which God is the true agent or “author” of certain acts and humans are merely God's instruments, together imply that he would regard certain instances of public lying as permissible and even obligatory. I buttress my argument by examining several key but neglected passages and by responding to various objections and rival interpretations. Throughout, I challenge standard interpretations of Augustine's ethics of killing and lying and seek to deepen our overall understanding of these dimensions of his thought. In so doing, I contribute to ongoing discussions of public and private lying and to the task of relating Augustine's thought to contemporary debate and deliberation on war, killing, and lying. (shrink)
This paper weaves together a number of separate strands each relating to an aspect of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. The first strand introduces his radical and incoherent idea of a private object. Wittgenstein in § 258 and related passages is not investigating a perfectly ordinary notion of first person privacy; but his critics have treated his question, whether a private language is possible, solely in terms of their quite separate question of how our ordinary sensation terms can be understood, in a (...) philosophical context, to acquire meaning. Yet it is no part of his intention to demonstrate logically that ordinary sensations are not intrinsically meaningful. This is a tempting yet misleading picture, the picture also expressed through the idea of Augustine’s child who is conceptually articulateprior to learning how to talk. This picture lies behind the born Crusoe, an idea at the centre of the dichotomy between language as essentially shared and essentially shareable, a dichotomy considered here to result from a misconception of two quite separate but related aspects of Wittgenstein’s treatment offollowing a rule. The notion of a misleading picture, in both its pre-theoretical and philosophical aspects, also plays a crucial role in a treatment of Saul Kripke’s well-known “Postscript: Wittgenstein and Other Minds.”. (shrink)
Although Hannah Arendt is not usually read as a philosopher of religion, her political philosophy is noticeably filled with references to religious figures and thinkers, including Jesus of Nazareth, Augustine and Duns Scotus. Also notable is the implicit centrality in her thought of amor mundi, or love of the world. The difficulty is that although she spoke to her students about it, she rarely wrote about amor mundi. In this article, I seek to provide a plausible explanation of the (...) meaning of amor mundi in Arendt’s thought, drawing in particular upon the influence of Augustine on Arendt’s unique development of the ethical and political principle of love for the world. Specifically, through a close reading of Arendt’s doctoral dissertation, Love and Saint Augustine, I identify the relationship between Augustine’s conception of cupiditas and Arendt’s conception of amor mundi. (shrink)
In the history of ethics, it remains remains unclear how Christians of the Middle Ages came to see God-given virtues as dispositions (habitus) created in the human soul. Patristic works could surely support other conceptions of the virtues given by grace. For example, one might argue that all such virtues are forms of charity, so that they must be affections of the soul, or that they consist in what the soul does, not anything the soul has. Scholars usually assume that (...) the explanation lies in the impact of Aristotle's philosophy on medieval theology. This essay argues that the dispositional account of God-given virtues was already entrenched by the end of the twelfth century and probably owes more to the influence of Augustine's treatise On the Good of Marriage. (shrink)
Roughly speaking, Augustine claims that ‘Immutable Truth’ is superior to the human mind and, consequently a legitimate candidate for the role of God. Clearly there is such a thing as Immutable Truth. So either that is God, or there is something superior to Immutable Truth, and that superior thing is God. I spell out this argument, and offer some objections to it.
The Confessions recounts Augustine's successful search for God. But Augustine worries that one cannot search for God if one does not already know God. That version of the paradox of <span class='Hi'>inquiry</span> dominates and structures Confessions 1–10. I draw connections between the dramatic opening lines of book 1 and the climactic discussion in book 10.26–38 and argue that the latter discussion contains Augustine's resolution of the paradox of <span class='Hi'>inquiry</span> as it applies to the special case of (...) searching for God. I claim that he develops a model, relying on the universal human experience of joy and truth, that identifies a starting point that (1) is common to all human beings, (2) is sufficient for guiding a successful search for God, and (3) avoids commitment to recollection of experiences prior to birth. The model is crucial to Augustine's rejection of traditional Platonist views about recollection. (shrink)
: In Contra Academicos 3.11.24, Augustine responds to skepticism about the existence of the external world by arguing that what appears to be the world — as he terms things, the "quasi-earth" and "quasi-sky" — cannot be doubted. While some (e.g., M. Burnyeat and G. Matthews) interpret this passage as a subjectivist response to global skepticism, it is here argued that Augustine's debt to Epicurean epistemology and theology, especially as presented in Cicero's De Natura Deorum 1.25.69 - 1.26.74, (...) provides the basis for a much more plausible, realist interpretation of Augustine's argument. (shrink)
’m not really sure what they were after when they asked me to talk to you about Augustine and the Platonists. Maybe they wanted me to talk about some specific Platonists, and the elements of Augustine’s views that he adopts or adapts. And no doubt I should at least mention a couple of names. There’s Plato himself, of course (428-348 BC). The thing is, it’s pretty clear that Augustine had never read Plato directly, whether in Greek (which (...)Augustine couldn’t actually handle very well) or in Latin translation. The best he could do was to read what other people said about what Scotus said. Then there were two followers of Plato whose work Augustine did read in Latin translation: Plotinus (204-270) and his student Porphyry (233-305). He probably read them in the translation of Marius Victorinus, who is discussed in Book 8 of the Confessions. There’s a lot of debate, though, about exactly what he read and exactly how it influenced him. I have a somewhat non-standard view about this. I call it the “Who cares what Augustine read?” view. My view is that even though Augustine read Plotinus and Porphyry rather than Plato, his version of Platonism is actually much closer to Plato himself than it is to Plotinus and Porphyry. So knowing the details of Plotinus and Porphyry doesn’t really matter much for understanding Augustine, because Augustine’s kind of Platonism doesn’t really depend on those details. In spirit, it’s much closer to the real Plato, because it adopts the overall outlook of Plato without a lot of the additions and complications of later Platonists. And that’s why I’m going to start with a story. I’m going to use this story to get across what I think is the essence of this Platonic outlook. Then I’ll show you how various Platonists put the insights that this story encapsulates to work in three different aspects of philosophy. After I’ve laid all that out, I’ll talk about how Augustine transforms this Platonic picture in the light of his Christian faith.. (shrink)
In analysing Augustine's views on freedom it is standard to draw two distinctions; one between an earlier emphasis on human freedom and a later insistence that God alone governs human destiny, and another between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian freedom. These distinctions are real and important, but underlying them is a more fundamental consistency. Augustine is a compatibilist from his earliest work on freedom through his final anti-Pelagian writings, and the freedom possessed by the un-fallen and the fallen will is (...) a compatibilist freedom. This leaves Augustine open to the charge that he makes God the ultimate cause of sin. (shrink)
In The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt explores the relationship between thinking, willing and judging. She poses the question of whether these may be among those conditions that prevent a person from doing evil. While many consider her account of thinking and willing (she died before writing the third volume on judging) insufficient for treating this question, I argue that in order fully to understand Arendt's notion of the will, particularly as it relates to our ability to avoid doing (...) evil, one must consider the way in which she attempts to overcome the Augustinian dilemma of how one can love both God and one's neighbor at the same time. Drawing on her Love and Saint Augustine, I seek to show that her 'Augustinian' notion of the will is extremely fruitful for helping us understand what she meant by the two movements of withdrawal from, and activity within, the world. Key Words: Arendt Augustine ethics evil love will. (shrink)
Augustine's moral psychology was one of the richest in late antiquity, and in this book James Wetzel evaluates its development, indicating that the insights offered by Augustine on free-will have been prevented from receiving full appreciation as the result of an anachronistic distinction between theology and philosophy. He shows that it has been commonplace to divide Augustine's thought into earlier and later phases, the former being more philosophically informed than the latter. Wetzel's contention is that this division (...) is less pronounced than it has been made out to be. The author shows that, while Augustine clearly acknowledges his differences with philosophy, he never loses his fascination with the Stoic concepts of happiness and virtue, and of the possibility of their attainment by human beings. This fascination is seen by Wetzel to extend to Augustine's writings on grace, where freedom and happiness are viewed as a recovery of virtue. The notorious dismissal of pagan virtue in 'The City of God' is part of Augustine's family quarrel with philosophers, not a rejection of philosophy per se. Augustine the theologian is thus seen to be a Platonist philosopher with a keen sense of the psychology of moral struggle. (shrink)
The social history of childhood usually identifies Rousseau as the origin of our contemporary understanding of the topic. The literature describes how Rousseau's notion of childhood as a time of natural innocence became embedded in key social forms such as the family and universal education. Scholars working in the history of political thought, however, have uncovered a fundamental relationship between Rousseau and Augustine. Analysis shows that Rousseau's philosophy of childhood recapitulates many Augustinian elements, and was not therefore an ex (...) nihilo creation. (shrink)
Augustine and Anselm form a common tradition in mediæval thought about angelic sin, a tradition rooted in patristic thought and centred on their attempts to give a philosophically coherent account of moral choice. Augustine concentrates on the reasons and causes of angelic sin, especially in reference to free will; Anselm adopts Augustine’s analysis and extends it to issues about the rationality of sinful choice. Each takes Lucifer’s primal sin to be the paradigm case. Lucifer, undistracted by bodily (...) desires and unencumbered by history, committed the first moral misdeed in an entirely good universe newly created by an entirely good God. The challenge is to give a philosophical account that permits us to understand how the best and brightest of all angels nevertheless made a sinful choice in such uniformly positive circumstances. (shrink)
The secondary literature on Saint Augustine is enormous. The annual bibliography of new work on Saint Augustine in the Revue des études augustiniennes runs anywhere from 75 to 100 pages, which means that a mere list—not a discussion, just a list—of everything written on Augustine in the last ten years would fill two good‐sized books. No one could read all this material, most of which is utterly without value anyway. The present essay is a guide to the (...) essentials; it covers what anyone beginning to study Augustine seriously should read and what any librarian should take care to acquire. Given that goal and intended audience, I have limited myself to considering books written in English in the last ten years that have been widely read or (in the case of more recent books) seem likely to be of enduring value. Given the nature of this journal, I have also concentrated on philosophical books and excluded those whose focus is primarily biographical, bibliographical, historical, or theological. I consider the selected books under four headings: general surveys, specialized studies, editions and commentaries, and translations. (shrink)
Abstract Throughout his works, St. Augustine offers at least nine distinct views on the nature of time, at least three of which have remained almost unnoticed in the secondary literature. I first examine each these nine descriptions of time and attempt to diffuse common misinterpretations, especially of the views which seek to identify Augustinian time as consisting of an un-extended point or a distentio animi . Second, I argue that Augustine's primary understanding of time, like that of later (...) medieval scholastics, is that of an accident connected to the changes of created substances. Finally, I show how this interpretation has the benefit of rendering intelligible Augustine's contention that, at the resurrection, motion will still be able to occur, but not time. (shrink)
Walter Burley (1275-c.1344) and John Wyclif (1328-1384) follow two clearly stated doctrinal options: on the one hand, they are realists and, on the other, they defend a correspondence theory of truth that involves specific correlates for true propositions, in short: truth-makers. Both characteristics are interdependent: such a conception of truth requires a certain kind of ontology. This study shows that a) in their explanation of what it means for a proposition to be true, Burley and Wyclif both develop what we (...) could call a theory of intentionality in order to explain the relation that must obtain between the human mind and the truth-makers, and b) that their explanations reach back to Augustine, more precisely to his theory of ocular vision as exposed in the De trinitate IX as well as to his conception of ideas found in the Quaestio de ideis. (shrink)
The political theorist William E. Connolly reads Augustine's Confessions as an exhortation to deny the paradox of identity/difference. The paradox for Connolly is this: if one confesses a true identity, one must be false to difference, but if one is true to difference, one must sacrifice the promise of true identity. I revisit Augustine's Confessions here in order to offer a reading of their paradoxical character that contrasts with Connolly's. I will argue that Augustine's confession does not (...) deny the paradox of identity/difference but exemplifies what it means to struggle within it. I turn to James Wetzel's work on Augustine's idea of free will and Catherine Keller's work on the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo to suggest that treating Augustine's confession as confession reveals this struggle. (shrink)
Many contemporary scholars debate whether war should be conceived as a relative evil or a morally neutral act. The works of Augustine may offer new ways of thinking through the categories of this debate. In an early period, Augustine develops the distinction between evil done and evil suffered. Augustine's early treatments of war locate the saint as detached sage doing only good, and immune from evil suffered. In a middle period, he develops a richer picture of the (...) evil suffered on the occasion of the loss of historical goods but fails to develop the implications of this picture as concerns war. Finally, without abandoning emphasis on the avoidance of doing evil, Augustine comes to highlight how evil suffered in war prevents us from speaking simply of good wars. Augustine's ability to hold together senses of evil and their moral significance provides a useful avenue for new thought on this issue. (shrink)
There are widely differing accounts of Augustine's place in the early history of the notion of conscience. While some regard his contribution as groundbreaking, others consider that he only stressed interiority more than earlier authors. Starting with a contrast with Jerome, the present article aims at clarifying Augustine's specific contribution and the place of conscience in his moral thought.
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; Part I. Truth, Falsehood and Self-Refutation: 1. Preliminaries; 2. A modern approach: Mackie on the absolute self-refutation of 'nothing is true'; 3. Setting the ancient stage: Dissoi Logoi 4.6; 4. Self-refutation and dialectic: Plato; 5. Speaking to Antiphasis: Aristotle; 6. Introducing peritroph: Sextus Empiricus; 7. Augustine's turn; 8. Interim conclusions; Part II. Pragmatic, Ad Hominem and Operational Self-Refutation: 9. Epicurus against the determinist: blame and reversal; 10. Anti-sceptical dilemmas: pragmatic or ad hominem self-refutations?; (...) 11. Must we philosophise? Aristotle's protreptic argument; 12. Augustine's 'Si fallor, sum': how to prove one's existence by Consequentia Mirabilis; 13. A step back: operational self-refutations in Plato; Part III. Scepticism and Self-Refutation: 14. Self-bracketing Pyrrhonism: Sextus Empiricus; 15. Scepticism and self-refutation: looking backwards; Conclusion. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to explore the meaning of domination and slavery in the political philosophy of Augustine of Hippo (354–430), particularly in the major work of his later years, the City of God. It offers an exploration of this aspect of Augustine's thought in the light of relatively recent scholarship on the meaning of these terms for political philosophy (in particular, the work of Quentin Skinner and Philip Pettit). It finds that, in Augustine's eyes, (...) the nature of domination or slavery in the political sphere differed from its nature in the domestic sphere. (shrink)
Arendt’s theoretical influence is generally traced to Heidegger and experientially to the traumatic events that occurred in Europe during the Second World War. Here, we suggest that Arendt’s conception of politics may be usefully enriched via a proto-anthropic principle found in Augustine and adopted by Arendt throughout her writings. By appealing to this anthropic principle; that without a spectator there could be no world; a profound connection is made between the ‘cosmic jackpot’ of life in the universe and the (...) uniquely human activity that takes place in the political realm. By making this connection we suggest that solutions present themselves to a central puzzle arising in Arendt’s thought: namely, what it is that people actually do in the political realm. The first solution directly addresses the issue of content: what people talk about in Arendt’s public space. The second addresses the importance of ‘maintaining’ a space of appearances. The third considers the effect of participating in and observing the public domain. Consequently, we conclude that, for Arendt, action is nothing less than the activity of ‘world-making.’. (shrink)
Central to Augustine's understanding of rightly ordered sexuality is his belief that the pleasure of the act should not be separated from its good (procreation). It is useful to observe that he reasons in a similar way about eating: that the pleasure of eating should not be separated from its good (nourishment). Inadequacies in his understanding of the purpose of food and eating may be instructive when we think about inadequacies in his understanding of sex. If there is more (...) to food than he imagines, the same may be true of sex. Correcting for such inadequacies may also help correct for the (inadvertent) way in which his understanding of the purpose of sex may seem to legitimize technologies of assisted reproduction. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider Augustine’s attempted solution of the problem of divine foreknowledge and free will. I focus on two distinct notions of God’s relationship to time as they relate to this problem. In Confessions XI, Augustine develops an understanding of time and foreknowledge that cIearly offers a possible solution to the foreknowledge/free will problem. I then turn to On Free Will 3 .1-4, where Augustine conspicuously declines to use a solution similar to the one in (...) the Confessions, rather developing a response that demands a very different conception of foreknowledge. I subsequently argue that in On Free Will, Augustine’s argument requires that God’s foreknowledge, when considered in light of events involving human freedom, must be in a real sense dependent on the results of free choice. (shrink)
Augustine tells us in the Confessions that his reading of Cicero's Hortensius at the age of nineteen aroused in him a burning 'passion for the wisdom of eternal truth'. He was inspired 'to love wisdom itself, whatever it might be, and to search for it, pursue it, hold it, and embrace it firmly'. And thus he embarked on his arduous journey to the truth, which was at the same time a conversion to Catholic Christianity, and which culminated twelve years (...) later in his experience in the garden in Milan. In the first part of this paper I will trace Augustine's search for intellectual knowledge and truth -- the pathway from Manicheeism to Catholicism by which he achieves what he takes to be a true conception of God. Consideration will be given to the way in which his intellectual progress affects and is affected by the conative side of his nature -- his desires, habits and affections. I will then ask whether the insight into God's nature that Augustine achieves suffices to give him the wisdom that he seeks, and will consider his novel suggestion that it does not. We will see that Augustine attempts to set out additional, non-intellectual criteria for attaining knowledge of God -- where 'knowledge' has a richer sense that involves 'holding' the truth, and 'embracing it fully'. Augustine's conversion to the truth essentially involves a reorienting of the will, a radical change in attitude and motive. My second concern is with Augustine's conception of how his own will functions in his conversion. Clearly he thinks of his conversion as a process of change within the whole self, but one that culminates in a final act of will. His highly dramatized and metaphorical description of the struggle that goes on within him leading to his final decision is a repository of insight into human willing. I will attempt to elicit from the text of the Confessions Augustine's conception of the will -- whether it functions as liberum arbitrium, capable of choosing between presented alternatives, or simply as the executive organ of reason or desire. Secondly, I will consider the extent to which Augustine views himself as contributing by his overall process of conversion and to the final moment of decision. Consideration of Augustine's participation in the process must take into account his explicit recognition that he is in St Paul's predicament of not being able to do what he wants to do. The relevant questions are : What does Augustine do to bring about his conversion and Is his final decision something that he accomplishes by his own effort and striving? (shrink)
In his reflections on his adolescent theft of a neighbor’s pears, Augustine first claims that he did it just because it was wicked. But he then worries that there is something unacceptable in that claim. Some readers have found in this account Augustine’s rejection of the principle that all voluntary action is done for the sake of some perceived good. I argue that Augustine intends his case to call the principle into question, but that he does not (...) ultimately reject it. His careful and resourceful analysis of the motivations of his theft adds subtlety to his own understanding of voluntary action and allows hirn to introduce an important component of his general account of sin, namely, that it essentially involves prideful self-assertion in imitation of God. (shrink)
This article is about the conception of truth and signification in Augustine's early philosophical writings. In the first, semantic-linguistic part, the gradual shift of Augustine's position towards the Academics is treated closely. It reveals that Augustine develops a notion of sign which, by integrating elements of Stoic epistemology, is suited to function as a transmitter of true knowledge through linguistic expressions. In the second part, both the ontological structure of signified (sensible) things and Augustine's solution to (...) the apparent tautologies of mathematical truths are examined. Again his notion of sign turns out to be the keystone; this time, however, the natural in contrast to the conventional sign of linguistic expressions. In their complementarity, both parts show how Augustine intensely struggles with and (partially) overcomes the skepticism of the sensible world through his conception of sign and signification. (shrink)
This essay attempts to provide more evidence for the notions that there actually is a Latin (as opposed to a Greek) Neoplatonic tradition in late antiquity, that this tradition includes a systematic theory of first principles, and that this tradition and theory are influential in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. The method of the essay is intended to be novel in that, instead of examining authors or works in a chronological sequence and attempting to isolate doctrines in the traditional (...) manner, it proceeds by identifying certain philosophemes (a concept borrowed from structuralist and post-structuralist thought and here signifying certain minimal units from which philosophical “systems“ can be constructed), and then studying the combination and re-combination of these philosophemes consciously and unconsciously by a selection of important medieval writers. These philosophemes occur in Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram ; Augustine, De Trinitate ; Augustine, De Vera Religione ; Augustine, De Musica ; Macrobius, Commentarius in Somnium Scipionis ; and Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae . The sampling of medieval authors who use these philosophemes includes Eriugena, William of Conches, Thierry of Chartres, and Nicholas of Cusa. (shrink)
Augustine distinguished apparent evil, conflict and corruption among bodies from true evil, the self-initiated corruption of created spirits. Angels and humans fail to maintain the perfection of knowledge and love given by God and then turn to themselves as the focus of attention and appreciation. The original failures of both demons and humans were neither provoked nor persuaded by any outside bodily or spiritual force: each was an autonomous and self-initiated sin of pride. This fundamental evil underlies and (...) gives rise to every other sin among humans and angels. (shrink)
This offering in Routledge's acclaimed History of Philosophy series completes the acclaimed 10-volume collection. This work explores the schools of thought that developed in the wake of Platonism through the time of Augustine. The 11 separately authored in-depth articles include: Aristotle the scientist-- David Furley, Princeton University; Aristotle: logic and metaphysics-- Alan Code, Ohio State University; Aristotle: aesthetics and philosophy of mind -- David Gallop, Trent University, Ontario; Aristotle: ethics and politics-- Stephen White, University of Texas at Austin; The (...) peripatetic school-- Robert Sharples, University College, London; Hellenistic science and mathematics-- Alan C. Bowen, Institute for Research in Classical Philosophy and Science, New Jersey; Epicureanism-- Philip Mitsis, Cornell University; Stoicism-- Brad Inwood, University of Toronto; Ancient skepticism-- Michael Frede, Keble College, Oxford; Neo-Platonism-- Eyjdfur Kjalar Emilsson, University of Iceland; Augustine-- G.J.P. O'Daly, University College London. Order the entire Routledge History of Philosophy series and save 10% off each volume! (shrink)
Augustine was arguably the greatest early Christian philosopher. His teachings had a profound effect on Medieval scholarship, Renaissance humanism, and the religious controversies of both the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. Here, Henry Chadwick places Augustine in his philosophical and religious context and traces the history of his influence on Western thought, both within and beyond the Christian tradition. A handy account to one of the greatest religious thinkers, this Very Short Introduction is both a useful guide for the (...) one who seeks to know Augustine and a fine companion for the one who wishes to know him better. (shrink)
Augustine devoted two treatises to the topic of lying, De Mendacio and Contra Mendacium ad Consentium. The treatises raise interesting questions about whatlying is while defending the thesis that all lies are sinful. The first part of this essay offers an interpretation of Augustine’s attempts at definition. The second part exanlines his argunlents for the sinfulness of lying used to trap heretics and for the more general thesis that all lying is sinful.
Eric Gregory's Politics and the Order of Love takes up an audacious project: enlisting Saint Augustine in order to “help imagine a better liberalism.” This article first provides a summary of Gregory's argument, focusing on his emphasis on love as a “motivation” for neighborly care, and hence democratic participation. This involves tracing the theme of motivation in the book, which is tied to his articulation of liberal perfectionism and an emphasis on civic virtue. In conclusion I raise the question (...) of whether his project has ignored a key aspect of Augustine's account of love, namely, the role of the Holy Spirit, thereby demarcating the limits of Gregory's “rational reconstruction” of Augustine. (shrink)
In recent years, a new type of Neo-Augustinian theology has received extensive attention: Radical Orthodoxy. Leading figures behind Radical Orthodoxy such as John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, and Graham Ward assert that they reclaim Augustine's theology over and against almost every major types of modern theology. Their leading claim is that an Augustinian participationist theological ontology overcomes Enlightment sourced secularism. In this essay, the Augustinian character of Radical Orthodox theology is put to the test in terms of a comparison and (...) confrontation between Radical Orthodoxy and Augustine's Christology. It is shown that Radical Orthodoxy's sole concern with regard to Christology is in the manifestation or expression of the ontological relationship or unity of God and the world. Thus, Radical Orthodoxy has its roots in a post-Hegelian rethinking of unity in difference rather than being a rediscovery of Augustine's theology. Subsequently, it is shown that Radical Orthodoy's reading of Augustine denies his understanding of the manifestation of the being of God in Christ; furthermore, it does not account for Augustine's doctrine of atonement: where we recover our original justice and happiness through the substituting life and death of Christ, an atonement which prepares us for the vision of God in the Eschaton. (shrink)
In his De Natura et Origine Animae, an answer to a work by Vincentius Victor, Augustine was drawn into attempting to answer some questions about what kind of reality dream-bodies, dream-worlds and dream-pains have. In this paper I concentrate on Augustine's attempts to show that none of Victor's arguments for the corporeality of the soul are any good, and that Victor's inflated claims about the extent of the soul's self-knowledge are the result of mistaking self-awareness for self-knowledge. (...) class='Hi'>Augustine takes the position that the feelings we have in dreams and the feelings of the dead, although they are real feelings, are not always the feelings they seem to be. This position is consistent with Augustine's later works, though it departs from his understanding of these issues in his earliest works. (shrink)
The article claims that the concept of spirit or of incorporeal substance is a key concept in the thought of St. Augustine. It first recalls how the concept of spirit, which Augustine learned to conceive from the Platonists in Milan, permitted Augustine to extricate himself from Manicheism. Augustine, after all, was one of the very first in the Latin West to be able to think of God and of the soul as incorporeal. The paper shows how (...)Augustine used the concept of spirit in arguing against the corporealism of the Manichees and goes on to show from the Letters of Augustine how the bishop of Hippo used the concept of spirit against the Arians, how he held the spirituality of the soul as a fixed point of knowledge about the soul, how he used the concept of spirit to help Consentius to think correctly about God, to help Evodius to think correctly about the Trinity, to answer Volusian's questions about the incarnation, and to answer Italica's question about seeing God with the eyes of the body. In conclusion, the paper claims that the concept of a spiritual substance is one of the lasting elements of Neoplatonism in the thought of Augustine. /// O objectivo primordial do presente artigo é demonstrar que o conceito de espírito ou de substância incorporal constitui um conceito chave no pensamento de Santo Agostinho. Num primeiro momento, o artigo mostra de que modo o conceito de espírito, que Agostinho aprendeu a conceber dos Platónicos em Milão, permitiu a Agostinho libertar-se da influência do Maniqueísmo. Na realidade, Agostinho foi um dos primeiros na tradição do Ocidente Latino a ser capaz de pensar Deus e a alma como incorporais. O artigo mostra assim de que modo Agostinho usou o conceito de espírito na sua argumentação contra o corporealismo dos maniqueus, procedendo depois, a partir das Cartas de Agostinho, a uma demonstração do modo como o Bispo de Hipona usou o conceito de espírito contra os Arianos, de que modo ele defendeu a espiritualidade da alma como um ponto fixo no conhecimento acerca da alma, como ele usou o conceito de espírito em ordem a ajudar Consentius a pensar correctamente acerca de Deus, ou para ajudar Evodius a pensar correctamente acerca da Trindade, para responder às questões que Volusiano colocou acerca da incarnação, e para responder à questão de Italica acerca da visão de Deus com os olhos do corpo. Em suma, o artigo defende que o conceito de uma substância espiritual constitui um dos elementos remanescentes e duradoiros do Neoplatonismo no pensamento de Santo Agostinho. (shrink)
Recent events concerning the guerilla journalism group Live Action created controversy over the morality of lying for a good cause. In that controversy, I defended the absolutist view about lying, the view that lying, understood as assertion contrary to one’s belief, is always wrong. In this essay, I step back from the specifics of the Live Action case to look more closely at what St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas, had to say in defense of the absolute view. Their (...) approaches, while rather different, are nevertheless, I believe, complementary, and cast light on both practical and principled reasons for thinking that lying is wrong, even for agood cause. In the final section of the paper, I discuss some of the challenges that a further defense of the absolute view would need to meet. (shrink)
Abstract: St. Augustine's short treatise Instructing Beginners in Faith ( De Catechizandis Rudibus ) is one of his less well known works, but it provides some fascinating insights on pedagogy that are applicable to college teaching. For Augustine, education is best understood as a relationship of love, where teacher and learner function in a reciprocal system. If the teacher is enthusiastic, the students respond, drawing even more energy from the teacher. If the teacher is dull, or if the (...) students are unresponsive, the learning environment spirals downward. Augustine's relational analysis allows him to diagnose and prescribe cures for some of the problems contemporary college and university teachers often encounter in their classrooms. (shrink)
The patristic tradition has long censured or denied debts to Epicurean thought. Thus it is surprising to find that Augustine requires and uses Epicurean arguments at three moments in the Confessions essential his theory of friendship: the pear tree incident, the death of his friend, and the decision not to form a philosophical community. I argue that the classical definition of friendship is inadequate to solve these problems. Furthermore, reworking Augustine’s theory of friendship with the use/enjoyment doctrine developed (...) in The Trinity fails to resolve them. Thus the problems raised in the Confessions cannot be exposed or solved through Augustine’s own theoretical framework. I argue that they are, however, central to the Epicurean theory of friendship, which addresses them specifically, and that the Epicurean insistence on the mortality of the soul produces the central problem for Augustine’s notion of friendship. (shrink)
Augustine was undeniably a dogmatic thinker, but he also had an “aporetic side” which makes him more relevant to Christian philosophers today than isgenerally recognized. Augustine’s first experience of reading philosophy came from Cicero’s Hortensius, from which Augustine gained an appreciation for philosophical scepticism which he never lost. Thus, in all of his works and in all periods of his life, Augustine’s characteristic way of doing philosophy is aporetic, rather than either systematic or speculative. Paradoxically, (...) class='Hi'>Augustine’s faith in the truth of Holy Scripture and Church Doctrine gave him a freedom to explore theological and philosophical conundra and, if he could not resolve them, admit frankly that he could not do so. Like Socrates, Augustine was wise partly because he admitted to being puzzled about things that others took for granted. Some of the perplexities which occupied him are: (a) the nature of time; (b) whether it is possible to show someone (without using words) what walking is if one is already walking; (c) whether one is responsible for what one does in one’s dreams; (d) whether one can think about sadness or pleasure by having an image of it in one’s mind, but without experiencing any sadness or pleasure in the thought, and (e) (perhaps most famously, in the Confessions) how one can want something that he does not believe to be good. (shrink)
Phillip Cary argues that Augustine invented or created the concept of self as an inner space--as space into which one can enter and in which one can find God. This concept of inwardness, says Cary, has worked its way deeply into the intellectual heritage of the West and many Western individuals have experienced themselves as inner selves. After surveying the idea of inwardness in Augustine's predecessors, Cary offers a re-examination of Augustine's own writings, making the controversial point (...) that in his early writings Augustine appears to hold that the human soul is quite literally divine. Cary goes on to contend that the crucial Book 7 of the Confessions is not a historical report of Augustine's "conversion" experience, but rather an explanation of his intellectual development over time. (shrink)
Augustine’s first conversion is to the Christian Platonism of his day, which brought along with it a free-will defence to the problem of evil. Formative as this philosophical influence was, however, Augustine’s own experience of sin combines with his sense of God’s sovereignty to lead him to modify the views he inherited in significant ways. This transformation is demonstrated by setting Augustine’s evolving position against that of Gregory of Nyssa.
Augustine defends three claims about the passions: (1) The Stoic position differs only verbally from the Platonic-Aristotelian position. (2) The Stoic positionis wrong and the Platonic-Aristotelian position is right. (3) The will is engaged in the different passions; indeed the different passions are different expressionsof the will. The first two claims, properly understood, are defensible. But the most plausible versions of them give us good reason to doubt the third claim.
ABSTRACT: The objective of this article is to show Augustine’s originality in ascribing a key role to will in the cognitive activity. For him, knowledge is influenced by both will and love, and cannot be grasped without will. Grounded primarily on De trinitate, the article focuses on three kinds of knowledge that shed light on his peculiar view on will: self-knowledge, knowledge of God, and the knowledge of bodies.RÉSUMÉ: L’objectif de cet article est de montrer que l’originalité d’Augustin est (...) d’attribuer un rôle clé à la volonté dans l’activité cognitive. Pour lui, la connaissance est influencée tant par la volonté que par l’amour et ne peut être appréhenéee sans volonté. Se basant principalement sur De trinitate, cet article se concentre sur trois genres de connaissance qui mettent en lumière sa conception particulière de la volonté : la connaissance de soi, la connaissance de Dieu et la connaissance des corps. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question why the issue of reason and evidence as the central concern in the mainstream contemporary philosophy of religion has to be displaced by the issue of suspension according to Lao-Zhuang and the Augustine of Hippo. For both Lao-Zhuang and Augustine, in making room for the Other to appear at the core of the self’s being, it shows that there is an inseparable relationship of the self to the Other. In suspending its own understanding, (...) admitting its own ignorance in humility, the subject is not in sheer darkness, but can follow a new light not generated from itself; in suspending its own will, the subject is not paralyzed, but follows the will of the Other. The selfhood of the subject is constituted in its relation to the Other. (shrink)
This paper seeks to rehabilitate St. Augustine’s widely dismissed response to the alleged incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and free will. This requires taking a fresh look at his analysis in On Free Choice of the Will, and arguing its relevance to the current debate. Along the way, mistaken interpretations of Augustine are rebutted, his real solution is developed and defended, a reason for his not anticipating Boethius’s a temporalist solution is suggested, a favorable comparison with Ockham is made, (...) rival solutions are rejected, and the aporetic nature of the problem is explained. (shrink)
The extent of the influence of Augustine on Heidegger, long only indicated in a few notes in Being and Time, has come into focus with the publicationof Heidegger’s earliest lectures. Far from one among many sources upon which Heidegger draws, we now know that Augustine’s Confessions is a central source of concepts for the early Heidegger. While this is further evidence of the ongoing relevance of Augustine to contemporary philosophy, it does not necessarily makeHeidegger an Augustinian thinker. (...) The question of the degree to which Heidegger’s philosophy is compatible with Augustine’s theology is the subject of a recentlypublished volume of papers, The Influence of Augustine on Heidegger. While the editor, Craig de Paulo, proclaims the advent of an “Augustinian phenomenology”founded upon Heidegger, several contributors exhibit more caution, pointing out important divergences between Heidegger—whom no one would call a Christian—and Augustine. The author sides with the skeptics, reading Heidegger as in fact a subversion of Augustine. Heidegger reverses Augustine’s central insight, that the restless heart is intentionally structured, directed toward union with God. Heidegger’s anxiety in the face of death has no intentional term; it is self-reflective,Augustinian agitation without that which agitates it. (shrink)
John Milbank's case against secular reason draws much of its authority and force from Augustine's critique of pagan virtue. "Theology and Social Theory" could be characterized, without too much insult to either Augustine or Milbank, as a postmodern "City of God". Modern preoccupations with secular virtues, marketplace values, and sociological bottom-lines are likened there to classically pagan preoccupations with the virtues of self-conquest and conquest over others. Against both modern and antique "ontological violence" (where 'to be' is 'to (...) be antagonistic'), Milbank advances an Augustinian hope for the peace that is both beyond and prior to the peace of (temporarily) repressed antagonism. One aim of this essay is to consider whether virtues conceived out of such a hope are really all that different from the virtues they are taken to replace. I take a critical look at Augustine's critique of pagan virtue, Milbank's appropriation of that critique, the applicability of that critique to Plato, and the polemical value of Augustine's notion of original sin. I end up being skeptical of the notion of a peculiarly Christian way to turn antagonistically conceived virtues into love, but I am not unsympathetic to Milbank's concerns about a loveless and self-complacent secularity. (shrink)
This paper examines Augustine’s analysis of the possible causes of akrasia and suggests that an implicit two-phased consent process takes place in an akratic decision. This two-phased consent theory revolves around Augustine’s theory of the two wills, one carnal and the other spiritual. Without the help of grace, the fallen will dominated by the carnal will can only choose to sin. After exploration of this two-phased consent theory, the paper turns to examine the accusation made by Julian of (...) Eclanum, a fifth-century Pelagian, and J. Van Oort, a contemporary Augustinian scholar, that Augustine’s doctrine of the two wills and concupiscence led the Church into a Manichaean position. The paper concludes that this accusation fails to hold up, especially when one considers the more nuanced view on the human body and concupiscence in Augustine’s later works. (shrink)
William of Ockham discussed the fallacy of amphiboly twice in his writings. The first treatment was in his Expositio super libros Elenchorum, where he simply presents Aristotle’s treatment, updates it with some Latin examples, and tells us it is not too important, since we do not often run into cases of ambiguity of thiskind. Later, in his Summa logicae, however, he extends his treatment appreciably. He here includes under ambiguous statements philosophical and theological sentences which are improperly stated. Led by (...) Aristotle, Augustine and Anselm, Ockham finds that in their writings they give us instances of improper statements which need to be restated properly before they can be evaluated as true or false. These leads provide for Ockham a key to unlocking the teaching treasures of the Ancients. (shrink)
This article continues the discussion of dating Augustine’s sermons, using Augustine’s Christmas sermons (184–196 and 369–370) as the basis. It also includes an excursus, summarizing the status of present discussions and identifying the value and goal of this effort from a methodological perspective.
At first glance it seems strange to compare the views of two philosophers from such different contexts as are Harry G. Frankfurt1 and Aurelius Augustinus. After all, Frankfurt makes virtually no use of Augustine, virtually no mention of his philosophical doctrines—whether on free will or anything else.2 And yet, the two have more to do with each other than initially meets the eye. For in their own ways both of them sketch a respective theory of freedom that is similarly (...) insightful; moreover, the theories of both lapse into paradox (paradox of which each author is aware but from which neither seeks to escape). Of course, Frankfurt's articulation of his theory is more systematic, more focused than is Augustine's. Indeed, Augustine seems to make most of his points as if en passant; even in De Libero Arbitrio he shows little interest in sustained treatment of the topic heralded in the title. So what links Frankfurt and Augustine is not their philosophical style but rather (1) their putative triumph over the philosophical elusiveness and the conceptual impenetrability of the notion of freedom-of-will and (2) the fact that in coming to cognate conclusions, they share similar strategies. Thus, they admit of plausible comparison. (shrink)
In De trinitate X Augustine seeks to discover the nature of mind (mens). As if recalling Plato’s Paradox of Inquiry, he wonders how such a search can be coherently understood. Rejecting the idea that the mind knows itself only indirectly, or partially, or by description, he insists that nothing is so present to the mind as itself. Yet it is open to the mind to perfect its knowledge of itself by coming to realize that its nature is to be (...) only what it is certain that it is. (shrink)
Augustine of Hippo understands the lay faithful in virtue of their regal-sacerdotal anointing at Baptism to exercise, always in unison with the ordained ministry, an indispensable twofold role in the sinner’s reconciliation. In Peter, not only the clergy but indeed all the saintly members of the community receive the spiritual commission to bind and loose. According to their particular vocation, the lay faithful bind the sinner through fraternal correction and loose him through their intercessory prayer. As members of the (...) Totus Christus, they participate in Christ’s unique remissive mediation. A mixed society where saints live among sinners provides the necessary context for this ecclesial reconciliation. (shrink)
I have argued that like Harry Frankfurt, Augustine implicitly distinguishes between first-order desires and higher-order volitions; yet unlike Frankfurt, Augustineheld that the liberty to form different possible volitional identifications is essential to responsibility for our character. Like Frankfurt, Augustine recognizes that we can sometimes be responsible for the desires on which we act without being able to do or desire otherwise; but for Augustine, this is true only because such responsibility for inevitable desires and actions traces (at (...) least in part) to responsibility for our volitional identifications, which in turn has leeway-libertarianconditions. However, David Hunt has interpreted Augustine’s account of divine foreknowledge as implying a type of source-incompatibilism that does not require alternative possible actions or intentions. Moreover, while Eleonore Stump’s account of Augustine on sanctification supports my interpretation, Augustine’s position on predestination in his latest writings may be incompatible with liberty of the higher-order will. I will argue against Hunt’s interpretation but admit that the leeway-libertarian has to reject the ‘no autonomy’ model in some of Augustine’s late writings. (shrink)
The paper begins by describing two episodes of personal grief recounted by Augustine in the Confessions, that at the death of an unnamed friend and thatat the death of his mother, Monica. It is argued that Augustine intended to show that the earlier fried, and an early phase of his grief for his mother, were sinful. However, contrary to arecent account of Augustine's grief, it is argued (by an examination of the later phase of his grief for (...) his mother) that Augustine does not hold that it is wrong to grieve at the death of a loved one, provided that one grieves for the right reason. (shrink)
The first-person point of view -- Augustine's life -- Skepticism -- Language -- The Augustinian cogito -- Mind--body dualism -- The problem of other minds -- Philosophical dream problems -- Time and creation -- Faith and reason -- Foreknowledge and free will -- The problem of evil -- Wanting bad things -- Lying -- Happiness.
In Book VI of his Confessions, Saint Augustine offers a detailed description of one of the most famous cases of weakness of will in the history of philosophy. Augustine characterizes his experience as a monstrous situation in which he both wills and does not will moral growth, but he is at odds to explain this phenomenon. In this paper, I argue that Aquinas’s action theory offers important resources for explaining Augustine’s monstrosity. On Aquinas’s schema, human acts are (...) composed of various operations of intellect and will, and thus are subject to disintegration. In order to capture the gap in human action between making choices to pursue particular goals and translating those choices into behavior, Aquinas distinguishes between two operations of will that he calls choice and use. I apply hisdistinction between choice and use to Augustine’s case, arguing that Augustine’s moral weakness is a result of will’s failure to use its choices. The central thesis of this paper is that Augustine’s monstrosity is a bona fide case of weakness of will that is best explained as a failure in use at the level of will. (shrink)
I offer an argument for the claim that there is a transcendent dimension in music. The argument begins with one offered by Augustine in the De Musica, and adds additional support from contemporary discussions in musicology.
The life and works of Augustine of Hippo (354-430) have shaped the development of the Christian Church, sparking controversy and influencing the ideas of theologians through subsequent centuries. His words are still frequently quoted in devotions throughout the global Church today. His key themes retain a striking contemporary relevance - what is the place of the Church in the world? What is the relation between nature and grace? -/- Augustine's intellectual development is recounted with clarity and warmth in (...) this newly rediscovered biography of Augustine, as interpreted by the acclaimed church historian, the late Professor Henry Chadwick. Augustine's intellectual journey from schoolboy and student to Bishop and champion of Western Christendom in a period of intense political upheaval, is narrated in Chadwick's characteristically rigorous yet sympathetic style. -/- With a foreword reflecting on Professor Chadwick's distinctive approach to Augustine by Professor Peter Brown. (shrink)
This paper argues that in Augustine rationality in religion depends in important respects on religious social practice. This point is developed in reference to the questions of the reasonableness of a commitment to a particular religion, the meaningfulness of religious terms and concepts, and the truth and falsity of religious claims. In a concluding section, I contend that Augustine, while giving rationality in religion a basis in religious practice. succeeds in avoiding the tendency, found in some otherwise similar (...) contemporary positions. to sever rationality in religion from rationality in other domains of inquiry. (shrink)
Arendt and others have regarded Augustine as “the first philosopher of the Will,” considered in a broadly naturalistic sense. However, the Stoicism that influenced the young Augustine has a better claim to have “invented” such a will. His own thinking about will was profoundly affected by the Neoplatonism that facilitated his reconversion to Christianity. On the one hand, Augustine envisaged the near negation of will through the irrationality of sin and the fall. On the other, he came (...) to believe that through grace will could be re-identified with charity and with reason, human and divine. From a philosophical point of view, he thus rationalized, and in effect nullified, the concept of will with which he began. (shrink)