The Augustinian Person

The Augustinian Person

PETER BURNELL
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284xg5
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  • Book Info
    The Augustinian Person
    Book Description:

    Through careful analysis of Augustine's writings, Burnell concludes that Augustine conceives of human nature as a unity at every level--socially, morally, and in basic constitution--despite very common objections that he fails to achieve such a conception

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1589-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-17)

    One of the crucial observations in Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self is that Augustine thought of God as “behind the eye” as well as (platonically) before it:¹ God is not only the human mind’s ultimate object but the foundation even of its subjectivity. An indication of this is that the most characteristically Augustinian proof of God’s existence is based on radical mental self-observation: even as we experience knowing something, we rely on an absolute source of truth as guarantee that we are in fact knowing; so in realizing that we know something we imply the existence of God (De...

  6. CHAPTER 1 THE SOUL AND BODY
    (pp. 18-53)

    It has been argued that although Augustine on occasion divides human nature into three parts—spirit (or mind), soul, and body—this division is a mere ecclesiastical relic in his thought; and that his more fundamental division of our nature is into two—soul and body.¹ But in fact both the trichotomy and the dichotomy are fundamental to his thought on the subject throughout his career.² Moreover, there is no disjunction between them: they are simply versions of the same conception of human nature. We consist of body and soul, but the soul has two main aspects, the mental and...

  7. CHAPTER 2 THE FACULTIES OF PERSONALITY
    (pp. 54-70)

    Alasdair MacIntyre in Whose Justice? Which Rationality? says that according to Augustine: “The rationality of right action … is not its primary determinant, but a secondary consequence of right willing. Hence faith which initially moves and informs the will is prior to understanding…. This … is something to which Augustine was necessarily committed by his psychology of the will.”¹ These remarks presuppose an idea of the human mind as divided into separate, independently operating faculties. We have already noticed (in the introduction) some of the criticisms, and theological doctrines, to which this very old interpretation of Augustine’s psychology has given...

  8. CHAPTER 3 THE STAGES IN THE HUMAN CONDITION
    (pp. 71-96)

    J. M. Rist has pointed out that as a result of the spiritual history of the human race Augustine gives “not one, but three accounts of the relationship between soul and body.”¹ The reason is that in specifying human nature Augustine examines practical human experience rather than attempting definition in vacuo; yet he does not think our nature to be fully perceptible in its present condition, either, for that condition has thrown the nature itself into more or less violent disorder (e.g., CD 13.3, 14.13). Consequently, he brings into consideration (as therefore we must) the divine administratio of human life...

  9. CHAPTER 4 HUMANITAS
    (pp. 97-135)

    In Sources of the Self Charles Taylor reclaims an Augustinian conception of the structure of morality.¹ Both the similarities and the differences between Augustine and Taylor on this matter provide a useful approach to the problems of Augustine’s ethics. Taylor proposes a hierarchy of three kinds of good: first, standards of propriety that differ from one culture to another (the privileges of a warrior, for example; the duties of a wife or a son); then the norms (courage; the wrongness of murder) with which people everywhere, ordinarily, successfully make some moral sense of experience—Taylor eventually calls these “life goods”;...

  10. CHAPTER 5 CITIZENSHIP IN GOD
    (pp. 136-172)

    In the treatise On Free Will Augustine, as we have seen, conceives of decency as practiced not only between individuals but in such a way as to form a developed society (his example is the choice of a political constitution) (De lib. arb. 1.5.11–1.7.16). Later, especially in the City of God, he continues to think of virtue in a context of structured relationships—of compassion itself as exercised by a paterfamilias toward the members of his family (CD 19.14; cf. 19.5). The thesis of the City of God is that human experience is, in the final analysis, the history...

  11. CHAPTER 6 HUMAN NATURE AND PERSON
    (pp. 173-193)

    What, in sum, is Augustine’s notion of humanity? More specifically, what does he think it means to say that human beings are made in God’s image? In what sense does he think that human beings are ultimately deified? (In both patristic thought and modern scholarship on it, these are treated as aspects of one question and will be so treated here.)

    Although the main purpose of this chapter is to draw positive conclusions, it will again be instructive to consider some modern criticisms. Louis Dupré has said that for the Greek Fathers redemption consists in the deification of a human...

  12. CHAPTER 7 THREE OPEN QUESTIONS
    (pp. 194-204)

    We have seen that Augustine’s notion of humanity has at its every main declension the unity it needs to make the sort of sense he implicitly claims it makes: his general notion of human nature (that of a primarily mental soul of which the body is an aspect) is of a creature that with its own essence uniquely conjoins the two orders of being—the intellectual and the physical. This notion, together with that of the Fall (with which he closely connects it, for our nature has needed the various stages of our condition), is proleptically Incarnational, allowing the possibility...

  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 205-208)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 209-218)