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C H A P T E R  8




Saint Augustine (354 – 430)

St. Augustine with his mother St Monica (1846) -  by Ary Scheffer



Saint Augustine (354 – 430)
He was born in Northern Africa, and

became the Bishop of the Roman African Province of Hippo.

His mother is Saint Monica. 

He fathered a son out of wedlock.

He wrote 118 treatises.

His Confessions is a Hagiography (400). The Romans blamed this on Christianity.

The Goths sacked Rome in 410.

His City of God is the first philosophy of history (426).







He argued that skepticism is inconsistent:

Skeptics must accept necessary logical truths, or they can't argue their position.

   Either P or Not-P is true.

   It is false that P and Not-P are both true.


The skeptics claim that we can't know that anything is true requires a definition of truth.

Their definition of truth is either true or false.

If it's true, they have truth.

If it's false, it can't be used to defend skepticism.



Other truths are:


We know the contents of our minds. For example:

There is a red perception. I appear to he happy, depressed, cold, hot, etc...

In the De Civitate Dei Augustine says, "If I am mistaken, I am." (book XI, 26)

If I doubt, then we exist.



St. Augustine began an era of 1,000 years of mediaeval philosophy, and

laid the foundation for modern philosophy. 


1.   The senses provide certain subjective temporary truths.

      The senses and the reality they reflect is changing and imperfect.

      Things that change are temporary and created. 

2.   Reason provides certain eternal objective truths. (Plato)

      The reality they reflect is unchanging, perfect, eternal, uncreated, and part of God.

      We discover these truths through the divine light.

3.   The forms, which reside in the divine mind, make judging particulars possible.

      The form of beauty makes it possible to judge particular things.

      The form of justice makes it possible to compare just actions.

4.    Faith makes it possible for reason to understand ultimate truth.

      "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand."

5.   God freely created the world and time out of nothing (ex nihilo).

      God created everything at once.

      God planted rational seeds for new creations to arise.

      (This was advanced to address the apparent biblical contradiction that

      everything was created at once, and some things were created at different times.)

6.   God is eternal, unchanging, and beyond time.

7.   God apprehends reality all at once.

      How can we have freewill?

8.   How can evil exist in a world created by a perfect being?

      Evil is the privation of good.

      Moral evil is the result from freewill.

      Everything happens for the best.

9.   Nations rise and fall according to their morality.





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