Augustine's Confessions (Critical Essays on the Classics Series)
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Unique in all of literature, the Confessions combines frank and profound psychological insight into Augustine's formative years along with sophisticated and beguiling reflections on some of the most important issues in philosophy and theology. The Confessions discloses Augustine's views about the nature of infancy and the acquisition of language, his own sinful adolescence, his early struggle with the problem of evil, his conversion to Christianity, his puzzlement about the capacities of human memory and the nature of time, and his views about creation and biblical interpretation. The essays contained in this volume, by some of the most distinguished recent and contemporary thinkers in the field, insightfully explore these Augustinian themes not only with an eye to historical accuracy but also to gauge the philosophical acumen of Augustine's reflections.
that they are not only a few, but are even found to reach an inﬁnite number. For he who says: “I know that I live,” says that he knows one thing; if he were then to say: “I know that I know that I live,” there are already two things, but that he knows these two, is to know a third thing; and so he can add a fourth and a ﬁfth, and innumerable more, as long as he is able to do so. But because he cannot comprehend an innumerable number by adding one thing to another, or to express a thing
about the future, returns to his memory and ﬁnds there the mode and the measure of all the forms that he beholds in his thoughts. (11.8.14) To be sure, Augustine thinks there are limits to what one can imagine successfully. One must have in the storehouse of one’s memory the appropriate components to form a successful image of whatever it is one is to imagine.2 But, so long as one can recall having had sense experience of the right sorts, one’s mind can make up images of things one has never
a passage from On the Trinity, where the knowledge claim is not ‘I know that I exist,’ but rather ‘I know that I am alive’: T1. It is an inner knowledge by which we know that we live, where not even the Academician can say: “Perhaps you are sleeping, and you do not know, and you see in dreams.” For who does not know that things seen by those who are asleep are very similar to things seen by those who are awake? But he who is certain about the knowledge of his own life does not say in it, “I know
15, 22n, 23–5, 29, 34, 70–1, 74, 76, 80–4, 91–2, 107–8, 114n, ch. 13, 134–41, 143 Eighty-Three Different Questions, 56, 64n Enchiridion, 111 Literal Commentary on Genesis, 71, 93–4, 95n Lying, ch. 14 On Free Choice of the Will, 3, 12, 36, 42, 88–90, 94n, ch. 13, 134–41, 143 On the Beautiful and the Fitting, 10 On the Happy Life, 15, 134 On the Immortality of the Soul, 67–8 On the Practices of the Catholic Church, 142 On the Soul and Its Origins, 72 On the Trinity, 36, 38–41, ch. 6, 53–5, 60–1,
Against the Academicians: T2. Zeno says that an appearance can be apprehended if it appears in such a way that it couldn’t appear as a falsehood. (3.9.21) Let’s work with T2. A ﬁrst thing to think about is the meaning of ‘can be apprehended.’ The Latin expression Augustine uses, posse comprehendi, suggests the translation ‘can be grasped.’ However, in the context, the main issue seems to be whether anything can be known. So let’s just understand ‘can be apprehended’ to mean ‘can be known.’ The