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AUGUSTINE (354-430 AD)
-------Roman empire in the West is breaking down. Germanic barbarians
who'd been moving in for centuries, often peacefully, will conquer by the
mid-6th century. Christianity has been gaining in power and popularity,
sometimes promoted by the state, sometimes persecuted. Competing
philosophies...Christianity, various brands of Platonism, skepticism, eastern
mysticism...sort of like Southern California all around the Mediterranean.-------
....... Why talk about it?........
A. We know a lot about it
B. Important for his philosophy
1. Point of Philosophy is to lead the good and happy life
2. See him thinking through issues -- especially the question of what it is reasonable to believe.
3. Astute observer of the human condition...introspective
psychological awareness...e.g. his famous meditation on the nature of
I. Augustine is born in Tagaste, in North Africa near modern Tunis.
His mom is a Christian and his Dad isn't.
II. Abandons Christianity early on. Thinks that Christians require that
too much be taken on faith. Forms a theory of epistemic virtue -- It's better to believe only what you can prove or
what you have witnessed yourself.
III. Folks want him to be a teacher of rhetoric (sort of like a lawyer...teach
people to speak persuasively and cut a fine figure in the world.)
Send him to Carthage...pretty wild life. But does develop a passion
for the truth...reads Cicero.
IV. Becomes a Manichean. It's a philosophico/religious system at which we're going to look later on.
A. Claim to solve the Problem of Evil! (We'll look at that later.)
B. Claim to be able to answer all questions. Prove Manicheanism (and a host of subsidiary beliefs) vs. Christianity which said you have to take some things on faith.
C. He's a Manichean for about 10 years. He has a concubine all this time, and a son by accident, little Adeodatis.
D. He has various doubts and is always told that when
this great Bishop Faustus arrives he'll answer all the questions.
Well, Faustus finally comes to town and turns out to be a dope. Augustine
gives up on Manicheanism.
V. Becomes a skeptic (can't keep that up for long).
(First issue we're going to look at in Augustine's text.)
VI. Decides to reinvestigate Christianity.
A. New attitude towards believing some things on faith. Faith in its most general sense means belief based on the testimony of others.
1. Not some kind of existential leap in the dark.
2. Some things you just have to take on faith.. [read] .Cairo, Columbus, your folks. You could not live your life, it would just be irrational, not to take some things on faith.
3. Augustine Vs Descartes
a. Descartes, says only commit if you can be certain. That way you're protected against epistemic failure...believing something false.
b. Augustine says, True, believing some things on faith involves risk. You have an epistemic problem if you commit yourself to a false belief, but don't you equally have a problem if you fail to commit yourself to a true belief?
B. Puzzles presented by Christianity.
1. We're made in God's image...so is God this big, corporeal guy? Can't
conceptualize the immaterial.
2. And then there's evil!
VII. Reads some, "books of the platonists." (probably Plotinus) Nature of God, evil...what he didn't read there is Incarnation.
A. In response to 1., We're made in God's image in that we're rational.
B. But what about Evil?!? We'll get there in due time, and do lots of evil!
......Decides Christianity is true..........
VIII. Feels that for him committment to Christianity should entail celibacy. (Not because he was an old meany who hated women!)
A. He had given up his concubine in order to marry a girl from a higher social strata..He was all torn up, even though he allowed his ambition to get the better of him....His fiance was twelve so he has to wait...while he's waiting, engaged to this girl, he finds himself another woman...
B....didn't want to have to give up sex... "Oh Lord, give me chastity
and continence, ...but not yet." Struggle.
IX. Tolle, lege, tolle, lege...(read). Converted to Christianity. Became a priest and then a Bishop. Wrote extensively...hammering out what orthodoxy would consist in. Dies as the vandals are beseiging Hippo.
I. The Bible is the inerrant word of God.
A. God speaks through the writers of the Bible.
B. It's all true.
II. It's all literally true... (But what does "literally" mean here?)
III. But cannot necessarily be taken in its prima facie sense. (Analogy w/ physics text)
IV. Requires interpretation (hard work, smart person, lots of education, adherence to authority of Church, through which you can receive guidance from the Holy Spirit)
V. Genesis for example.
A. 6 days? But it also says that God created everything at once (possible mistranslation) and works even now (John 5:17). Can't be any contradictions.
B. Can a day mean sunrise to sunrise, or the time during which the sun is shining? No. The sun is not created until the fourth "day"
C. "Days" = moments in the angelic consciousness. Seminal reasons = seeds of all things implanted in creation at the beginning of time, unfolding over the years. Fits nicely with evolution.
D. Religion and science. Bible is not a scientific text
and ought not to be treated as if it were.
EPISTEMOLOGY (De Magistro, On the Teacher)
------Belief and Knowledge and how you get them in a Christian universe----------------
I. Anti-skeptical argument (not in your reading for today. Found in various places in Augustine.)
1. I have a belief.
(Just any old belief)
2. Either I am mistaken or I am correct . (The only options)
3. If I am correct, then I exist.
4. If I am mistaken, then I exist.
5. I EXIST ! ("Si fallor, sum.")
---Silly to try to maintain complete skepticism ---
II. TAXONOMY OF ------ BELIEFS
A. "MERE BELIEF". Acceptance of a claim which might be true or false.
1. A belief which is true and...
2. Produced by direct acquaintance with the known.
C. "CERTAINTY" (indubitable knowledge)
We can believe some
things with certainty, but we have knowledge of much more, and it is
reasonable to believe all sorts of uncertain and even unknowable
III. Knowledge by acquaintance
A. Words can't teach you anything. (H 29) .
1. Words are only signs, have meaning only insofar as you are acquainted with the actual objects. So to grasp the meaning of the words you need direct acquiantance with the things.
2. To know the truth of a proposition, you need to have direct contact with the state of affairs. ‘There's
an ingens gallina caerulea in the hall."
B. Knowledge vs. Belief: The three young men in the firey furnace.
(Old Testament). You learn about them on the testimony of others and so you can have only
belief. (H 30)---
Though belief in this case, as so often, is quite useful.
IV. Sense Knowledge (31)
--------Sense knowledge is genuinely possible, pragmatic
is there present to your senses you really can claim to know
it----(Memory? Knowledge so long as the mind can produce the clear and
V. Rational Knowlege
-----What about "Numbers and Wisdom" -- Truths which hold always and everywhere, 2+2=4, It's better to be smart than stupid...
A. We do know them/ objective and accessible to everyone.
B. Can't have learned them through words or sense experience/ the same always and everywhere. (Plato was right.)
C. Requires immediate acquaintance with the objects of knowledge.
IV. The ‘inner light', Christ, the inner teacher, divine illumination.
--------addenda on illumination------
1. Plato's forms now the Ideas in the mind of God...the world is produced through these forms...e.g. 2+2=4...and we understand because of contact with the forms. Though I would argue that Augustine gives a bit more credit to the senses than Plato does. Augustine holds (I believe) that we learn the catness of the cat from contact with cats.
2. It might look as if all we need illumination for is those eternal
and immutable truths which we couldn't get through our senses. No.
In order to understand anything we need illumination because all our understanding
depends on possessing a cognitive framework of these universal truths.
It's true that we learn, ‘The tree is turning red' through our senses,
but we need a grasp of numbers...one tree isn't two or three etc. and logic...if
it's a tree it can't also not be a tree in the same way at the same time.
THE "PROOF" FOR GOD FROM TRUTH
(Weinberg pp.34-38, Hyman and Walsh pp.34-50)
I. What's to be proven (H 34): Existence of God, goodness of things,
whether or not free will is a good thing.
II. Do you know that you exist? (34) Si fallor sum. We are capable of
knowing something. Human reason can get at some truth. We don't
need to be total sceptics.
III. We also know, in addition to the fact that we exist, that we live
IV. Reason is the most excellent in the human being. (Note that we have moved to value.) Two reasons: (34-37)
A. Because it entails the other two aspects. Reason contains more than the other aspects. (H 34)
---Neoplatonic understanding of metaphysical value and "degrees" of existence ---
1. Universe is a hierarchy of value...existence is a really good thing, so the more there is to you, the better. (Value is not a matter of usefulness to us, but of intrinsic worth. And not just moral worth but what you might call "metaphysical" worth, the value you have just by existing.)
2. The Great Chain of Being and the Principle of Plenitude: dirt<plant<lower animal<human being. (No missing links...that's why there are things kind of on the borderline between kingdoms.)
3. Not an implausible view. Kill a pig to save a child? Destroy a rock to save a tree? Idea of "evolution"? "Lower" animals?
B. Reason rules and judges the other senses...what rules is superior.
--- Universe is an ordered, teleological system. So, e.g. Health is proper order in the body. Includes thought that the superior ought to rule, "ought" in the sense that that's how things work best. Achieve their telos. (BUT NOT PLATO'S REPUBLIC!)---
1. 5 senses give us raw sense data.
2. There is an "interior sense" which other animals have as well. Its job is to...
a. be aware of and direct the 5 senses. Sensing is an active phenomenon. You are attentive.
b. connect the information from the five senses. E.g. shape and color are two different things. There has to be connecting going on. Color and smell are two different things....
c. recognize whether the objects in question are to be sought or avoided. Mr. Bunny is able to turn his attention towards this greeny, nice-smelling object, and recognize that this smell and this color and shape are to be associated with this good thing...parsley. (He won't call it parsley, of course.)(H 35-37)
3. The interior sense is superior to the other five because it is ‘a ruler and judge' (H 37). E.g. It tells Nero to keep sniffing.
4. Reason is something superior to these because it is able to step
back and consider them.. Animals have consciousness, but we have self-consciousness.
We can think about these 6 senses. It is reason which judges the
senses. (H 38)
V. If we find something superior to reason, will that be God? Evodius: Well...no.... How about if it's superior and eternal and immutable? (H 38)
VI. Does anything exist which is external to the rational mind, superior to it, eternal and immutable?
A. Numbers! (40-42)
1. external to the individual, objective...we can all perceive it. It doesn't belong just to you or to me. (e.g. desk).
2. not in or about corporeal things (a number of proofs including...)
a. All this material stuff can cease to exist.
b. Number system rooted in "one" which we never perceive.
c.We know that the rules of mathematics apply to all numbers but we couldn't
possibly have sense contact with an infinite number of numbers.)(H 40-41)
B. Wisdom! (42-44)
1. (Laws of logic?)
2. Truths of value and morality. (It's better to be smart than stupid. It's wrong to torture small children for fun. H43)
C. Truth is Immutable and eternal.
--- Summing up p. 45 ---
D. Superior to reason? Because we judge reason against number and wisdom, and not vice versa...that is, if somebody says that they've thought about it and decided that 2+2=5, we don't say, "Gee, maybe it is." We say, "Think again."(46)
SKETCH OF THE "PROOF" THUS FAR:
1. You know you exist.
2. You know you exist and live and understand.
3. Of existence, life, and reason, the last is the best.
a. It contains the other two.
b. It is the judge of the other faculties.
4. Something really existing, superior to reason, which is eternal and immutable, would be God.
5. Numbers and Wisdom exist objectively.
6. Numbers and Wisdom are eternal and immutable.
7. Numbers and Wisdom are superior to our reason.
Therefore Numbers and Wisdom are God.
-----Of course, you can deny all of this. David Hume and A.J.
Ayer do. Math and logic are just arbitrary, made up languages, functions
of human thought. Morality is just a matter of sentiment. Total
scepticism. Can't think at all. Certainly can't say, truthfully,
"There is no truth." Right? Cratylus.------------
A. But is this really the Judeo-Christian God?
B. Transcendent, eternal, immutable, standard of all goodness, what
enables us to know...sounds like Plato's Good.
VIII. Everything must have its source in this Truth...everything is
established through number (48-50).
A. Form=nature or structure. Everything has form.
B. Number is what gives things Form (proportion).
C. If you stop having form you cease to exist.
D. Causal proof.
1. The things we see around us are contingent ("Contingent" = they are the kind of thing that can come into being and pass away, so they require a causal explanation for their existence).
2. Nothing can bring itself into being.
3. There must be a source for all the contingent things.
4. The source must be adequate to the effect. (In philosophy it's a good idea to state the obvious.)
5. To exist is to have form.
6. So what gives form -- Numbers -- is the source of all the
things we see around us.. (Mutable things depend on, copy, the
IX. God=Truth is the cause of everything...and everything is GOOD!
Proof from Truth: Summary
1. You know you exist. (Si fallor, sum)
2. You know you also live and think. (To know 1 you'd have to.)
3. Your reason is superior to mere existence or existence and life.
A. It contains the other two. (Existence is good, the more being a thing has, the more there is to it, the better it is. Corollaries: The Great Chain of Being, The Principle of Plenitude.)
B. Reason judges other aspects of cognitive apparatus. (The five senses and the interior sense.)
4. Something would be God if it were...
A. really existent
B. eternal and immutable
C. superior to reason
5. Numbers and Wisdom (i.e. Truth) exist objectively. (We all recognize them.)
6. Numbers and Wisdom are immutable and eternal. (We "see" that they cannot change and hence cannot be different at different times.)
7. Numbers and Wisdom are superior to our reason. (Reason must conform to Truth, not vice versa.)
8. And this Truth is the SOURCE of our world.
1. The things we see around us are contingent ("Contingent" = they are the kind of thing that can come into being and pass away, so they require a causal explanation for their existence).
2. Nothing can bring itself into being.
3. There must be a source for all the contingent things.
4. The source must be adequate to the effect. (In philosophy it's a good idea to state the obvious.)
5. To exist is to have form.6. So what gives form -- Numbers -- is the source of all the things we see around us.. (Mutable things depend on, copy, the immutable forms).
---BUT IF THIS IS YOUR VIEW OF GOD AND CREATION, DON'T YOU HAVE A GIGANTIC PROBLEM?!? ---
Put the question two ways.
Augustine: If absolutely everything has its source in God, where in the world does evil come from?!?
Hume: The contemporary way to put the problem is: If God is omnibenevolent, He'd want to get rid of evil. If He's omnipotent, He'd be able to. Yet there's evil. So...
1. There's no God. or...
2. (More cautious claim) There's some evidence against the existence of God.
-------n.b. Evil -- if
you mean something that really shouldn't have happened -- is a
big problem if you DON'T believe in something
like the Judeo-Christian God, too. If all there is is atoms and
void, no value, no meaning, then what sense does it make to say that
really shouldn't have happened?------
Some terminology (might be defined differently in different classes): "Moral evil" -- wickedness, bad choices, and the pain and suffering that result from them. "Natural evil" the pain and suffering which is not a consequence of moral evil.
I. Manicheanism: (Note that they give same explanation for moral and natural evil.) We believe in the Christian God, but....
A. Two equal and opposite forces in the universe. There's Good=light and spirit and Evil=darkness and matter.
B. The corporeal world is made by the evil side.
C. We're the battleground...spark of the divine in base matter.
-----echoes of Plato and Plotinus------
D. Albigensians (12th century)
1. Worst thing you can do is procreate. Death is cool.
2. Overcome bodily desires by indulging.
4. Become a perfecti on your deathbed..backslide they'd kill you.
E. George Lucas (!)
II. Augustine finds it attractive. Western civilization hangs
in the balance!
(In addition to his problems with Faustus) He realizes
that you can't possibly square Manicheanism with anything like the Judeo-Christian
God. There can't be two God's! A limitless being can't be limited (duh!).
III. So where does evil come from? God made everything? Did He make evil?
A. No! No! and NO! Evil is nothingness. A perversion or
corruption of the good. The "Privative" theory of evil. Read Confessions VII, 12.
B. Note that Augustine does not equate evil with matter...at all!
1.One of the major differences which he sees between Christianity and Platonism is this business about matter.
a. God made it.
b. God became incarnate.
-----So Augustine insists that the body is good. ---
2. He is a dualist, but both body and soul go to make up the whole human being. Soul is the superior part, but you are not you without your body. Death is a terrible evil because it tears apart this unified thing. True, your soul survives, but it's not complete. It won't be comfortable until the resurrection of the body.
3. Enormous significance. Church has, from the beginning, been doing battle with the Platonists and with anyone who wants to say that the real you, the important thing, is somehow just the thinking part. Moral consequences.
a. sexual morality.
BUT WHAT ABOUT EVIL???
-----All of which is not to say that people don't do evil. Where does evil come from?----
(We're spending a lot of time on this because 1.) it's intrinsically interesting, 2.) it has a huge impact down the ages, for example during the Protestant Reformation, and 3.) it is a good case study in how intellectual history is pursued, including how it underscores the need to be cautious as we look at the texts.)
Moral evil comes from...
And so some will attribute to Augustine the "Free Will Defense".
Q: How can the existence of God be reconciled with the existence of moral evil?
A: It is a really great thing for human beings to have free will, that is, to be able to choose the good on their own.
1. It makes us a metaphysically superior kind of thing.
2. But there's no choosing without options, and that means that it must be possible for us to choose the bad. And sometimes we do.
3. So the only way for God to prevent evil choices is to shut down free will or never have made it in the first place.
----- A crucial question in definition (again, might be defined differently in different classes).
I. Determinism: You do what you do by necessity. Your choice is the only possible effect of a necessitating cause. You could not choose other than you actually do choose.
Three divisions (The three are not inconsistent with one another. You could coherently subscribe to one, two, or three of the views.)
A. Natural ("scientific") Determinism: You choose what you choose because of preceding natural causes -- e.g. heredity, environment, brain chemistry.
B. Motive Determinism. You choose what you choose because of preceding motives for which you are not ultimately responsible.
C. Theistic (Divine) Determinism: You choose what you choose because
God makes you choose it.
II. Advantages of Determinism:
A. Assumption that human choices are completely
explicable, at least in principle.
(Again, no conflict among the three.)
B. With motive determinism we can attribute your choice to your character.
C. With theistic determinism we protect divine sovereignty.
III. Problem with Determinism:
A. No moral responsibility. It is a mistake to praise or blame you.
B. With theistic determinism we'd have to say that God causes all your choices, even your choice to sin.
A. Two criteria
1. Indeterminism. A free choice is one where you really could go either way. There is nothing about the object, you, or the universe which causes you to do one rather than the other. (There may be reasons for either choice, but these are not determining factors.) If you choose A it is nonetheless true, without qualification, that you could have chosen B.
2. Self-causation. The choice really arises from you...its causes are not ultimately traceable back beyond you.
--- Note that the libertarian can allow that libertarian free choices are few and far between. Maybe we make such choices infrequently.
--- And, the libertarian can allow that much that we do is determined. Indeed, the fact that we are choosing between A and B, rather than Q and R, may be determined.
1. Choice of A over B ultimately inexplicable, at least in terms of preceding causes.
2. (In a theist universe) God is not in absolute control. Libertarianism undermines divine sovereignty.
1. Moral responsibility in the sense that the buck really stops with you. (Some who oppose libertarianism will argue that if a choice is NOT traceable to your preceding character then you are not really responsible.)
2. God did not make you choose to sin.
V. Compatibilism: Though your choices are determined you may nevertheless be free in a robust enough sense to ground moral responsibility, and hence justify praise and blame.
A. A standard version --When confronted with a choice you will choose what you most desire. Given the object and you, you will inevitably go one way or the other. If you choose it is because that's what you wanted most. If you choose A, we can say that you could have chosen B if you had wanted to, but in an absolute sense you could not have failed to choose A.
1. Note that compatibilists will say that doing what you want the most is "voluntary" (voluntas), i.e. it is according to your own will.
2. And the compatibilist will say that you are not free when you are coerced or forced -- you're tied down, there's a gun to your head, you're addicted...
B. Advantage: You can have your cake and eat it, too. The advantages of both determinism and libertarianism.
C. Disadvantage: Really it's just determinism with some bells and whistles.
N.b. In order to mount the Free Will Defense, which analysis of free will do you need to adopt? Libertarianism!
BACK TO ON FREE WILL
I. Is Free Will among the good things?
A. Yes. Didn't we just show that everything comes from God?
B. We need it to choose the good. (Sounds like the Free Will Defense) p. 51
C. But it can be abused.
1. Just because something can be abused doesn't mean it's not a good thing. The hands, the eyes etc.
2. Free will is a better thing than even the eyes because no one can live aright without it.
C. The three categories of goods with respect to the things in this world. p.52
1. Great goods... Virtues
2. Least goods...bodies
3. Intermediate goods...powers of soul without which one could not live
rightly, but which can be turned to wrong.
II. What is it to do good? Cleave to the unchangeable good. And Bad? Choose a lesser good. (p. 52-53).
A. Is it possible to choose evil per se? No. Every object of choice must be something good, since everything that exists is good. (p.53)
B. "Since this turning is not coerced, but voluntary, it is justly and deservedly punished with misery." (p.53)
III. What makes the will turn from the immutable to the mutable good? p.53
A. I do not know...
B. ‘That which is nothing cannot be known.' A ‘defective' cause.
C. A question: Does this mean...
1.) that the choice is literally and absolutely uncaused and totally inexplicable -- implying libertarianism?
2.) or does it mean that the will is somehow ‘drawn' down? This would imply compatibilism.
3.) or does it mean that the created will is "defective"? Compatibilism again.
IV. Yes, but why does the choice for evil occur? p.53 (Note that Evodius doesn't think the question has been answered.)
A. Is the movement "natural and necessary"? Like that of a stone if I drop it? Here "natural" means an aspect of the nature or essence of the thing. Natural and Necessary = not voluntary.
1. No praise or blame p.54
2. Experience p.55
3. The hinge. 55
4. No point in advice etc. 55
V. All of this sounds pretty libertarian, but all of it is consistent with compatibilism.
A. But there is no text which actually says that freedom requires ACTUALLY open options. (The hinge? Well, compatibilists allow for open options. You could have done otherwise, if...)
B. Morevoer, in the next section the implication is that one (or Evodius) can't help but will to be happy, and yet Augustine points out that he's willing to be happy voluntarily.
C. When the question comes up about why does God create those whom He foreknows are going to sin, here's where you'd expect the Free Will Defense, and we don't get it.
Freedom and Foreknowledge p.56 (Note that Augustine only BEGINS to solve the dilemma.)
---Why do we want freedom? 1.) Human responsibility.2.) We don't want to say that God is the cause of sin.
--- Why do we want foreknowledge? 1.) God is that than which no greater can be conceived, so must have best possible knowledge. 2.) Divine Sovereignty. 3.)And, of course, adherence to the Bible, which is full of prophecy.
[Open Theism -- freedom and divine foreknowledge can't be reconciled, so best to say that we're free and God doesn't know what's going to happen. God knows all the possibilities, but not the actual future.]
I. The Dilemma (as an argument):
1. God knows today that I will choose x tomorrow.
2. God can't be mistaken.
---- So I've got to choose x tomorrow. But if I've got to choose x tomorrow, then----
3. I choose x necessarily.
4. Conclusion: But if I'm choosing by necessity, I'm not free.
---Augustine starts by showing that there's got to be SOMETHING wrong, because as it stands the argument seems to lead to absurdities. ----
II. Does God know what He is going to do tomorrow? p.56
A. If so it looks like we'd have to say His choices are necessary.
B. Evod. Well, of course God is eternal. No today or tomorrow for Him.
C. Aug. but we're speaking from a human perspective. From our perspective He knows today what He will choose tomorrow...so if divine foreknowledge meant that one chooses necessarily, then we'd have to say God chooses necessarily. Absurd!
III. Suppose God foreknows that you're going to be happy a year from now. Then you'd be happy by necessity and hence not voluntarily? No, you will certainly will to be happy. (Note evidence for compatibilism.)
IV. The full absurdity is that...
A. If something is a choice, if it's voluntary, it can't be necessary, by definition. We said above that the stone acts by necessity. No necessary choice.
B. So if God foreknows that you will CHOOSE, then He foreknows
that you will choose voluntarily...and so it is absolutely certain that
you will choose voluntarily.
---Now Augustine is moving into what is wrong with the argument. ---
V. Is the issue divine foreknowledge, or just any foreknowledge?
A. Any...because it's part of the concept of knowledge that what you know is the case. (If P knows that x, then x.) "Knowledge" is defined as TRUE belief.
1.) Premise 2 isn't doing any work at all.
2.) The fact that the knower in Premise 1 is God is irrelevant.
3.) ALL the work is being done by "knows", since if q is known, q is the case.
B. But knowledge, mere knowledge, doesn't entail compulsion.
C. Just as you apply no compulsion to past events by knowing them, God's knowledge does not apply compulsion to future events.
D. So, God foreknows that people will sin, but does not compel them to do so.
E. Notice that Augustine does allow that God's foreknowledge does introduce
a sort of necessity.
The difference between, If God foreknows that I will choose x...then, it is necessarily the case that I will choose x. (i.e. it is necessarily true by the definition of ‘knowledge'. "Conditional necessity", If I'm talking, then necessarily I'm talking.
then I will choose x necessarily. I'm compelled.
Conclusion is that in the original argument, premises 1-3 are true,
but the conclusion doesn't follow because the word "necessity" is used equivocally. "Necessity" in 3 is only conditional
necessity, not compulsion.
VI. Since God foreknows that people will sin, and some will not be redeemed, wouldn't it have been better if He just hadn't created them at all? (58-60)
A. No. It's better to exist, even if you'll consistently choose evil, than not to exist at all.
B. It's better to exist even if you are suffering, than not to exist. (Very different from modern evaluation.)
A sort of Great Chain of Being argument...but the GCB entails that all
possible KINDS exist. A failed member of a kind is not a new kind.
(Nowadays many folks accept some version of the free will defense, so the conversation has moved more to natural evil.)
I. Much of what appears to be natural evil is in fact moral evil.
Directly -- The suffering is directly caused by the chosen action (plus some laws of nature and physical events), e.g. smoking and lung cancer.
Indirectly -- The suffering could have been prevented if it hadn't been for bad choices, e.g. building collapses since not built to code, and then there's an earthquake.
II.. But what about the suffering that has nothing to do with human beings at all?
A. Animal suffering: How about Mr. Fox killing and eating Cousin Rabbit.
1. Would it be better if God had made foxes vegetarians? No, that is incoherent. Even God can't make something which is in fact a fox, but which doesn't behave as foxes behave. A fox is a fox because it's got the form of fox of which behavior is an intrinsic part. A fox without the form of fox is a contradiction. It is the nature of the fox to hunt the rabbit.
2. How about if God doesn't make predators at all? Then the "prey" never exist either. Things exist within a balance, a system of secondary causes.
a. God really likes secondary causes.
b. So if you want to get rid of the suffering you have to get rid of the lower animals. In order to spare Cousin Rabbit pain you're saying it's better that he should just never have existed. Cousin Rabbit won't thank you.
3. It's better to exist and suffer than never to exist at all.
4. Could God have made the system, but just without the pain? No, in the actual system the pain serves a purpose.
B.But couldn't God have simply made an entirely different, but equally good or better world? Augustine will just say , "no." The system of cause and effect that constitutes our universe is really, REALLY good. And presumably the burden of proof is on the one who insists that a better world is possible. All we can do is have a look at efforts to describe such a world. (I've never run into a plausible, imaginary, better world.)
-------But why is there so much moral evil?----------
VI. Original Sin (Reconsiderations, aka Retractions) . Augustine explains that On Free Will (On Free Choice of the Will) was written against the Manicheans and so it doesn't analyze the will as it is now, but rather as it was made by God originally.
A. The quotes from On Free Will do make it sound like we can choose good or evil, but here, he says, he was talking about the pre-lapsarian condition.
B. The Fall...Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and destroyed the peace of their existence.
1.Put themselves at war with God, and with each other. And even war internally in that, whereas body and soul should work together in obedience to God, soul loses control over body with the result that we are irresistibly drawn to pursue every self-destructive lust.
2. Horrible disease which gets passed on to their children and to all of us. We inevitably pursue evil.
3. So "original sin" could refer to the fall,or (more usual) it could refer to the inherited condition of sinfulness.
1. Explanatory power.
2. Empirical evidence?
3. Not a pessimistic view of human nature. Au contraire!
C. There's a cure. In two steps...
1. The Incarnation
a. The Christian God is three persons in one nature. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
b. The Son "assumes", becomes joined to a human nature -- takes on flesh. One person, two natures.
c. Atonement: Life and Death and Resurrection, to save us from sin; this original sin and whatever sins we commit on our own.
d. How does this work? Well, lots of debate.
1. Augustine: God tricks Satan into doing an injustice, and that destroys Satan's just rights over mankind. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
2. Anselm has a different approach.
2. We have to have faith in Christ's work. But we're mired in sin, so how can we make the commitment? Grace! Help from God to turn you back.
D. Pelagianism: Grace isn't absolutely necessary. There is no inherited original sin as Augustine would have it. If we try really hard we can fix ourselves and get to heaven on our own. Heresy!
1. Makes hash out of Christianity. No need for the Incarnation.
2. Conflicts with God's omnipotence...all goods come from God. You can't generate any good out of yourself.
3. Qualifies God's sovereignty...it's up to us that we get to heaven, not to God.
E. Semi-Pelagianism. We do need grace, but we can be good enough on our own to DESERVE it.
--really same issues as Pelagianism ---
1. You'd already be saved -- so why need Christ?
2. You'd be generating goodness on your own.
3. your choices can't restrict God.
GRACE IS 1) NECESSARY AND 2) UNMERITED
Catholic Church, and almost every Christian denomination up until present, has always accepted this...Pelagianism is just a heresy. But Augustine goes further...
3.) It ISN'T GIVEN (OR OFFERED) TO EVERYONE. Augustine takes
this to be the clear import of Scripture. (Pretty standard...open
4.) (Here's where Luther and Calvin say ‘Hooray!' and Catholic Church says, well..maybe not.) It's IRRESISTIBLE...if you could graciously decline, you'd be restricting God again. (Is this excessive. Absolutely all causal efficacy belongs to God, and human choice, in the final analysis, plays no role at all?)
F. Augustine insists that you are still free even though you cannot resist salvation.
1. Two descriptions of how this irresistible grace works -- (maybe they're really the same process?)
a. God draws you by desire -- He makes you an offer you can't refuse.
b. God turns your will around to the good. (But you still desire the good "volunatarily". It's your will.)
2. So in the later, anti-Pelagian work he is clearly a compatibilist.
3. If -- as Scripture says -- Hell is not empty, and Augustine is a compatibilist, he's got to say that God doesn't offer grace to everyone. If He did, everyone would be saved.
-------Some Augustine scholars hold that earlier in his career Augustine
was an indeterminist, will is perfectly free,...but he became a compatibilist
under pressure from Pelagianism. In his Retractions he's basically
saying that he hadn't changed his views. And if you read On Free
what you see is that he does argue that we need a will in
order to be good, and that it is the will which enables us to do
However, he does not say that we have to actually be able to choose
in order for the choice for good to be meritorious. He never
that we have open options. But for our purposes in PHIL 311 we'll just
leave it an open question whether or not Augustine was a libertarian
early in his career.
THE ULTIMATE GOAL
I. Happiness (Augustine sets a very high standard for what happiness consists in.)
A. True happiness is eternal life with God
B. Can't we be happy in this life? (This fallen existence. Things would have been radically different if Adam and Eve hadn't fallen and sin had not pervaded our existence. But, as it is...)
---Of course stuff like wealth, fame, power, pleasure, won't do the
job. Augustine is looking at two answers offered by philosophers
who've really given the matter some thought.-----
1. Through ourselves. We can master our own minds and thus free ourselves from evil. Stoics...nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so. [read] If things get too awful you can always commit suicide. Augustine, p. 84..
2. Through others. The life of the wise man must be social.
b. The city...life as a public official...the judge...will the wise man serve in this capacity? [The evils of the late classical judicial system.] Yes, but only because he is constrained by duty. (p.87)
c. The world...war...the great military leader...the wise man will wage only just wars....yes, but he can hardly be happy since the war is a terrible thing and is only fought because of the injustice of others. (p.87)
d. Suppose you do find real solace in the society of true and
good friends (family)? Can all be lost.
----For true happiness the Good we possess must be everlasting----Everlasting
Peace (i.e. things properly ordered, nothing static about it.)
II. Everything seeks peace
B. The robber band?
C. The recluse?
D. Everything there is...(p.91)
E. Goal is eternal peace
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: NO THEOCRACY!!! NO DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS!!! (If by that you meant that whatever the king says is right because he got it from God.)
----What gives the state the right to exercise authority over you and use force against you? Is there such a thing as an ideal state? Relationship of Church and State, believer to a secular society, certainly a going issue-----
I. The state is not a natural institution (though society is)...
A. That some should be authorized to use force against the rest of us is a necessary evil because of sin.
B. Disordered in that we are all intrinsically equal. (94)
C. Can we trust those in power?
D. Family, is a natural institution and is ordered children obedient to parents, wives obedient to husbands. But husband's duty to look out for the best interests of family. If this turns into an abusive situation it's because things have gone wrong. Use of force result of sin.
E. Slavery. Not a natural situation. No one is naturally a slave. Slaves exist because
those who could have been killed in war are instead enslaved. It's
a punishment for sin. There would have been no war to begin with
II. The goal of human existence is eternal happiness with God.
A. The city of God versus the city of the world. (Not Church and State).
B. Co-existence...Does the citizen of the City of God have to play by the rules of the state (Decline of Rome had been blamed on the Christians.)?
C. Yes, because earthly peace is of value to both. (p.95). Obey laws of the state...
D. Except when you are asked to deny God. (96)
III. An ideal state? A best form of government? (96) Not really. So long as state enables you to achieve earthly goods, food etc. and worship God that's the best you can hope for.
IV. Profoundly anti-Utopian (Utopianism is the Pelagianism of Political Thought)
A. versus Plato...the Republic with the philosopher-king.
B. versus 20th century socialist utopian experiments...Marxism, Fascism...
C. U.S. Founding Fathers a wholesome streak of Augustinian pessimism.
V. The Relationship of Church and State...well both have their role to play. The former ministers to the ultimate goal of humanity...so it's more important...yes, but it's got a different job to do than to impose order by force on people...Augustine does not offer a well-developed analysis of the respective roles of church and state. One of the driving forces of medieval history is the struggle...Thomas Becket...still going on today.
------Not an esoteric academic question with no practical import. 1.) My first philosophical question. And 2.) as it turns out, deeply practical...in a certain context.
1.) All moments of time are equally real.
2.)"Before", "After", and "Simultaneous with" can be objective, but...
3.) What counts for past, present, or future is subjective, relative to an individual perceiver at a given time.
1.) All that exists is the present moment.
2.) Past and future are absolutely non-existent.
Isotemporalism vs. Presentism. It is not perfectly clear which position Augustine adopts, or if he just doesn't end up with a clear position at all.
-- We're going to proceed as if he could be presenting and defending isotemporalism. But he'll say things that sound presentist. We can take account of those texts by saying that that's how things look TO US.
-- Note that Augustine does NOT connect his meditation on time with the dilemma of freedom and foreknowledge.
A. The world was created ‘in the beginning'
B. Through God's ‘speaking' the Word
II. "What was God doing before He made heaven and earth?"
A. The question implies that there is a contradiction between being immutable and being a Creator. (p.74)
B. The issue is not just creation, but any kind of interaction between an immutable God and a changing creation. For example: Does God know what time it is right now?
C. So the question is supposed to show that
the Judeo-Christian God is just
impossible. (The frivolous answer.)
III. Time is a creature!
A. So there is no "before" God created. (75)
B. God is outside of time(75). Sounds
like isotemporalism .
Solves the problem about an immutable creator (agent, knower) since we
can say that God does all He does in one, eternal and immutable
IV. This is radically weird...it means that all of time, past, present
and future, is "there" for God. The
present does not have an ontologically privileged status...maybe doesn't
seem so weird for the past, but how about the future?
V. Well, presentist view of time is weird, too, when you try to analyze it. All that there is is the present and past and future just don't exist. (And note that he often seems to be saying this.)
A. What is time? As long as no one asks, I know....(75)
B. Three difficulties with presentism --
1. Present seems to dissolve into nothing. Since it has no extension, it is the extensionless point at which the non-existent future becomes the non-existent past (76).
2. We measure time, but can time be long or short? (I.e. can it have extension?) On the presentist view, past and future don't exist.
3. If past and future do not exist, to what are we referring when we speak of past or future things?
How do we "see" the past or the future (76)? Only in the present (77)
(We just don't know whether or not this applies to God. I'd say not,
but then it's not clear how God does know past and present.)
VI. Could it be that the motion of some body (ies) constitutes time? I.e. Time just IS bodily motion. (p.79)
A. The planets and the heavens? No because
1. ...there'd still be time even if they stopped.
2. We can distinguish between the actual movement and the time it takes...e.g. what if the sun zipped around the earth in an hour?
B.. Any bodies at all? Well, no, because time can't be the motion itself, since time is that by which we measure how long the motion takes. (p.79)
VII. Time is the distension of mind (H p.79 and 80-81)
A. We can't measure the past and the future because they don't exist. We can't measure what's passing because until it comes to an end we can't fix the point we're measuring from.
B. Example of the short syllable v. long syllable...retained in present memory.
C. What we measure as lengths of time is present memory and anticipation.
D. Does this subjective understanding of time
necessarily contradict isotemporalism? No, we could just say that there
are two ways
of seeing things. God sees it all at once, we see it sequentially. So
time, as the passing phenomenon we experience
is basically just our way of seeing things. But it does,
nonetheless, seem to fit a little better with presentism, it seems to
EARLY MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY: STUDY GUIDE FOR AUGUSTINE (Note that
test will cover all and only material covered in class since the
I. Scripture: The difference between being literally true, and being accessible on a prima facie reading, with examples from Genesis.
-Anti-skeptical argument. (Three premises with a conclusion)
-Why don't words alone teach?
-The difference between belief and knowledge
-Difference between sense knowledge and rational knowledge.
-Divine Illumination (Including that World of Forms is now the mind of God, and need Illumination to know anything. Why?)
III. The Proof for God from reason
-Si fallor, sum
- I can know that I am and live and reason. Reason is most excellent of the three since it contains the other two. (Remember the principle of plenitude and the Great Chain of Being.)
-Reason is most excellent of human cognitive faculties (the 5 external senses, + the inner sense).
---So now we're looking for something superior to human reason, eternal and immutable-----
-Number and Wisdom are external to the rational mind (how do we know?),
superior to it (why?), eternal and immutable (why?). Number and Wisdom=Truth.
----But is this really God? We can see that Truth is a creator if...
-Truth is the source of all since to be one must have form, form is
number, something cannot form itself, must be a source.
IV. So where does Evil come from? (Distinguish moral and natural evil)
-Manicheanism: Basic picture of the cosmos, our place in it, death and procreation. Why does Augustine end up rejecting
it? (Philosophical reason, i.e. Can't have two "Gods". Neither would really be God, worthy of worship, etc.)
- Augustine's conclusion on the ontological status of evil, the privative theory.
-Evil (and the Fall) not associated with matter! Augustine is a dualist, but the body is a good and essential part of you. Death is an evil, and you won't be fully you until your soul gets back with your body.
V. Free Will
-The distinction between determinism, libertarianism, and compatibilism.
(And sub-species -- Theist Determinism, etc. And advantages and disadvantages of each position.)
-Is free will among the good things, even though it can be abused? (I.e. Why did God give us free will?)
-What is it to choose good? evil?
- If Augustine is a libertarian in On Free Will, then he can give the Free Will Defense. Explain
VI. Freedom and Foreknowledge
-The Problem (Why do we want both Freedom and Divine Foreknowledge? Give the proof for why they're supposedly incompatible.)
-Knowledge is not compulsion (Explain 2 kinds of necessity. It is true that if God knows what you're going to do tomorrow, then, necessarily, you're going to do it.)
-Better if God hadn't made people whom He knew would sin?
VII. Natural Evil
-Less than one might think, since so much apparently natural evil turns out to be moral
-Suffering and death an intrinsic part of the really excellent system!
VIII. Original sin: the fall and its consequences.
-Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism: Why does Augustine reject them?
-Grace: Necessary, unmerited, not universal, and is irresistible.
-Nonetheless, does not destroy free will. Augustine's compatibilism.
IX. The Good for man
-Why is real happiness unattainable through the goods this life has to offer? Stoicism, family, city, world.
X. Political philosophy
- Why, according to Augustine, is there something intrinsically disordered about states?
-What does it mean to say that the state is not a natural institution? What about the family? What about slavery? What justifies the authority of the state?
-Should the citizen of the City of God obey the laws of the state? (Yes and no)
-Does Augustine believe there could be a utopian state?
-What is theocracy? Why does Augustine not subscribe to it? (I.e. Why does he believe there should be a separation of church and state?)
- What constitutes a "good enough" state according to Augustine?
- Isotemporalism vs. Presentism.
-Why does the question "What was God doing before He made heaven and earth?" purport to show that the traditional Judeo-Christian God is conceptually contradictory? (And note that the problem about an immutable God interacting with a changing world is not limited to the question about creation. If God did one thing yesterday and another today, He changed. If He knew what day it was yesterday, and today knows that it's a different day, He changed --unless we're just using the time terminology quoad nos.)
-How does Augustine answer the question? (It isn't clear that this answer -- time is a category of creation -- responds to the GENERAL problem.)
-Hints that he's suggesting isotemporalism. But much that he says sounds presentist. Rogers argued that only isotemporalism could solve the general problem.
-Why is the presentist view of time weird? 1.) The present seems to dissolve into nothing. 2.)Measuring past and future. 3.) Referring to past and future things.
-Could time be the motion of the heavens? Of some body?
-For us, where and how does time as an extended phenomenon exist? Does this contradict the thesis that Augustine might be an isotemporalist? But maybe it fits better with the view that he's a presentist.