Essay on Confessions by Augustine: Book 5

Published: 2021-08-02
688 words
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Sewanee University of the South
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The lecture focuses on book five of Confessions by Augustine while putting into perspective the ideas highlighted in the other books. Augustine is described as a balanced being with respect to the head and the heart. On the heart, he is viewed as a brilliant lover and competent in mythology and poetry. On the head, he is described as an intellectual and a philosopher whereby he is effluent when it comes to English. An interesting aspect from the introduction in book 5 is the assertion by Augustine that when I try to reason my way into the truth, I found the truth was meaningless. It is perceived that assertion puts into perspective the issues of value and fact. To understand the power of Augustines soul, the first element is to comprehend why at first, he was a bad theologian. Book 3, section 7 includes three main questions that make one understand his thoughts on Gods existence. The questions are termed as problems and they include;

"Whence comes evil?", "Is God limited by a bodily shape, and has he hairs and nails?" and, "Are those patriarchs to be esteemed righteous who had many wives at one time, and who killed men and who sacrificed living creatures?" (Augustine Book 3, Chapter 7).

The second question, Is God limited by a bodily shape, and has he hairs and nails?", is perceived to make Augustine a poor theologian at first whereby he mostly thinks using his senses. Augustines power is perceived to lie in imagination whereby imagination makes it possible to include both concrete and abstract thought. Imagination allows conceptualization such that one gets to comprehend an idea or view. Imagination is described as what one holds in mind and lies between sensing and conceiving. It is perceived that anything that made great minds excel resulted in their downfall. For Augustine, the power of imagination is perceived to be his strength. However, it is what that makes him a poor theologian at first. The focus is put on chapter 4 of book five whereby Augustine questions the essence of a man being able to know certain things. Augustine states;

Yet, O Lord God of Truth, is any man pleasing to thee because he knows these things? No, for surely that man is unhappy who knows these things and does not know thee. And that man is happy who knows thee, even though he does not know these things. He who knows both thee and these things is not the more blessed for his learning, for thou only art his blessing, if knowing thee as God he glorifies thee and gives thanks and does not become vain in his thoughts (Augustine Book 5, Chapter 4).

The viewpoint is that Augustine introduces two constructs that include creation and God whereby humanity is given a choice to either understand God or the creation or both. The perspective is that creation is not God with the question being; why does creation add nothing to God? Creation is perceived to be nothing with the absence of God in which God is perceived to the artist of the universe. The lecture also highlights chapter eight of book five whereby Augustine perceives that God allows bad things to happen in his plans to bring about a greater good. The view is that God allows sin to dominate ones life to bring about goodness. The example used is manure whereby animal fertilizer makes it possible to bring about greater yields. Augustine uses imagination to describe his transition from badness to goodness in the chapter whereby he states;

For this too thou didst mercifully pardon me -- fool that I was -- and didst preserve me from the waters of the sea for the water of thy grace; so that, when I was purified by that, the fountain of my mother's eyes, from which she had daily watered the ground for me as she prayed to thee, should be dried (Augustine Book 5, Chapter 4).

Augustine is also viewed to shift his philosophy to skepticism in book five. Skepticism, in this case, is viewed to be useful when it is used as an attitude rather than the basis of the conclusion.

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