Augustine's Use of Epicureanism

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
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq201050218
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