Anda di halaman 1dari 5


(Rist, Augustine, 26). In The Master, Augustine proposes that without illumination, knowledge of names (or of any other kind of sign) will not bring understanding (ibid., 27).


Like the Stoics, the Epicureans want to use signs to infer what is non-evidentfrom what is given by the senses, though of course as materialist they are interested only in non-evident material objects whereas Augustine is interested also in immaterial objects. Like Augustine, they treat signs as indictors of whether something exists or not, or is happening or not, not to determine what would be the case if a certain propositionally describable situation were to obtain (ibid., 28). Augustine follows Porphyry, who though willing to consider the logical relationships between words, always retained the Platonic view that the meaning of the word (and the being of the particular named by the word) is only understandable metaphysically with reference to Forms in the intelligible world (ibid., 28). [A]lthough Augustine abandoned the notion that learning is a recalling of what we experienced or knew directly in some previous life, he acceptedthat we hold in our memory a set of immaterial principles (rationes) or impressed ideas (impressae notiones) which seem to be similar to at least a select number of Platonic forms: for example happiness and truth andeven of God (ibid., 31). Pictures too Augustine found suspect (Van der Meer {1961: 317324}): religious pictures merely distract or mislead ( DFS 7.14) (ibid., 32). Wordsdo not convey the heart; ones thoughts immediate, whereas talk is slow and drawn out (ibid., 33). Left sl. 54 Augustine supposed, under the influence of the Manichaeans, that Catholics believed God to be a corporeal substance contained within a human form. This conception of God led him to regard the doctrine of the Word made flesh as utterly repugnant, for it seemed to entail evil, which at that time he identified with matter, somehow being a part of Gods nature (Dobell, Augustines Intellectual Conversion, 9). are

The books of the Platonists taught him to seek wisdom by turning inward, and, under the influence of these books, Augustine would attempt at least two separate ascents of the soul to God. These attempts were successful in that Augustine was able to catch a glimpse of the unchangeable light of God above his mind. However, their success was limited: Augustine was too weak to maintain the vision. And so he continued seeking a way to gain the strength for enjoying ( fruendum) God. But, as the narrator of the Confessions tells us in retrospect: I did not find the way until I embraced the Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). Because Augustine had attempted to reach God without the assistance of the Mediator, his fleeting vision of God could not satisfy his desire to attain and hold wisdom. The Platonists had shown him wisdom as if from a distance, but they were unable to show him the way to this wisdom (Dobell, Augustines Intellectual Conversion, 14). Augustine had effectively fallen into Photinian error, in the sense that he had held Jesus Christ to be only a wise man, and not also the eternal Word of God. Thus Augustines Christology had undergone a complete turnaround: as a Manichaean, Augustine had believed that Christ was divine and only appeared to become human, but now Augustine believed that Christ was nothing but a human. His views had swung from one heretical extreme to the other (Dobell, Augustines Intellectual Conversion, 17). When exactly did Augustine clarify his Christological confusion and accept the Catholic teaching of the Word made flesh? (-) [In Confessions 7] the narrator recalls his seizing upon the Scriptures, especially the writings of St Paul, and discovering that the apostle expressed the same truth as did the Platonists but with praise of [Gods] grace. Augustines discovery of grace was a monumental one; it was nothing less than a discovery of the path to salvation, the path to the land of peace that the Platonists had glimpsed from afar but could not attain. Grace was the dividing line between presumption ( praesumptio) and confession (confessio), that is to say between those who see the goal but do not see the way (i.e. the Platonists) and those who see the way leading to the country of blessedness, which we are meant not only to perceive but also to dwell in (i.e. the Christians, living under grace) (ibid., 18).

BIBLIOGRAPHY Brian Dobell. Augustines Intellectual Conversion: The Journey from Platonism to Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. P. King. Augustines Encounter with Neoplatonism. The Modern Schoolman 82 (2005): 21326. P. van der Meer. Augustine the Bishop. Translated by B. Battershaw and G.R. Lamb. London and New York, 1961. OLoughlin, T. (1992) The libri philosophorum and Augustines conversions in T. Finan and V. Twomey (eds.), The Relationship Between Neoplatonism and Christianity. Dublin: Four Courts Press, pp. 10125. John M. Rist. Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.