THE LATER PHILOSOPHY OF ST. AUGUSTINE
By 396 AD Augustine had begun to despair over the possibility of human beings attaining happiness in this life or through their own efforts. His reading of Saint Paul had impressed upon him the harsh reality of original sin and the need to rely completely upon the grace of God for salvation. In the end, Augustine parted ways from the earlier classical traditional of which he was once a part and becomes the first Medieval Christian thinker.
As you read, be sure that you are able to answer the following questions:
- How does the problem of Divine foreknowledge challenge the idea of human free will (On Free Choice §3.5).
- How does the recognition of inherited sin also challenge the idea of human free will (On free Choice §3.8). Why does Augustine believe that it is just that we be punished for the sins our first ancestor's committed (On Free Choice §3.9)
- What is Augustine’s dilemma in the opening section of his Confessions? In what way has he made progress as a Christian? Is what way is he still held back from embracing the Christian faith. (Confessions § 1)
- Augustine compares the slavery of his own will to the links in a chain. What are the four links in the chain he describes? Why does it seem to Augustine that he has two different wills at war within himself? Why does Augustine think that the image of the two wills is not an accurate way of describing his situation? (§ 5)
- In the midst of his great spiritual crisis, Augustine flees into the garden behind the house where he is staying to ponder his situation. What is the analogy he makes between the will’s control over bodily movements and the will’s control over itself. What conclusion does he draw from this analogy? (§ 8-9)
What is Augustine’s critique of the Manichaean position on the will? (§ 10)
- As Augustine is struggling to gain control over his will, who is it that appears to him and offers him serene, calm hope? What advice does this figure offer Augustine to solve his dilemma? (§ 11)
- What are the circumstances surrounding Augustine’s conversion in the garden of Milan? (§ 12)
If you think that you understand the basic ideas in the text, take the quiz for this unit.
After taking the unit quiz, click on the blue arrows to write your reflective essay for this unit.
When you're ready, click on the blue arrows to join your fellow students in a discussion on the deeper issues in the text.
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