Happiness and Wisdom

Happiness and Wisdom: Augustine's Early Theology of Education

Ryan N. S. Topping
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 259
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  • Book Info
    Happiness and Wisdom
    Book Description:

    Happiness and Wisdom contributes to ongoing debates about the nature of Augustine's early development, and argues that Augustine's vision of the soul's ascent through the liberal arts is an attractive and basically coherent view of learning, which, while not wholly novel, surpasses both classical and earlier patristic renderings of the aims of education.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1974-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    As in many other subjects, St. Augustine did much to lay the foundations for the way the West subsequently thought about education, about the nature of humanity, and about how man can be cultivated so as to achieve his end. Augustine is also the first of the Church’s Fathers to analyze systematically the traditional liberal arts curriculum known within the ancient world, which he went on to transform for the purposes of Christian instruction. In 386, having abandoned his teaching career and all hopes of secular advancement, and recovering from a chest illness, he made retreat in the rural villa...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Liberal Education prior to St. Augustine
    (pp. 19-65)

    On june 17, 362, the Emperor Julian promulgated an edict that forbade Christian professors to teach classical literature in the schools throughout the empire.¹ If Julian was to succeed in reviving the spirit and the institutions of pagan Greco-Roman civilization through the recovery of the Hellenic ideal of paideia, he could not afford to allow Christians to continue to act as the mouthpieces of that tradition.² The history of Christian responses to classical culture is complex and varied. The wholesale accommodation of the faith to the surrounding pagan culture, even intellectual culture, was never a practical or theoretical possibility for...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Education in Augustine’s Moral Theology
    (pp. 66-94)

    If i am to succeed at demonstrating how the purposes for liberal education are established within the context of Augustine’s early moral theology, then some preliminary account of that theology is in order. From the start to the last Augustine remained a polemicist. A majority of his works were developed in response to some one or other perceived threat to Catholic orthodoxy and the unity of the flock. His early expositions of the nature of moral theology are no exception. Because of this feature of his development, one point of entry into Augustine’s ideas on the good of man is...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Perils of Skepticism
    (pp. 95-125)

    Augustine was aware of objections to the idea of educational progress, and nowhere more acutely than in his treatment of academic skepticism. Here the refutation of the New Academy¹ emerged as the task of Augustine’s first book at Cassiciacum, the Contra Academicos. The Academics required refutation because, if their skepticism proved true, then the theoretical basis for Augustine’s emerging Christian curriculum, unveiled in the De ordine (386) and later revised in the De doctrina Christiana (395–427), would be shattered. Contra Academicos has been the subject of numerous modern studies, most seeking to establish the dialogue’s relevance to contemporary epistemological...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Liberal Arts Curriculum
    (pp. 126-148)

    What does Augustine’s curriculum tell us about the purpose of liberal education? A curriculum, whether this is constituted by texts, the study of concepts, or a sequence of activities, is necessarily finite. The boundaries we draw around a curriculum define how much time a student will devote to mathematics as compared to literature, physical exercise compared to music. Selection is inevitable. The criteria according to which that selection is made will be drawn from some conception of the purpose of education, that is, by a conception of why education is a praiseworthy activity. This is first in the logical order...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Pedagogy and Liberal Learning
    (pp. 149-184)

    The final purpose of education for Augustine is happiness in God. What further purposes for education can we discern through his discussions on pedagogy? In his early writings Augustine devotes no single text to pedagogy, even though numerous passages contain explicit and implicit references to his theory of teaching and learning, and especially to the importance of authority in education. At one point, for example, Augustine goes so far as to call authority the “medicine of the soul” (medicina animae) (vera rel. 24.45). This chapter aims to vindicate the concept of authority as a central component within Augustine’s early pedagogical...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Authority and Illumination
    (pp. 185-226)

    In what ways are the purposes for liberal education made manifest in Augustine’s other discussions of epistemology and ethics? Having situated Augustine’s educational thought within the context of his moral theology (chapter 2), having examined his critique of skepticism (chapter 3), and having explored how the purposes of liberal education are manifest in his treatment of the curriculum (chapter 4) and within his account of pedagogy (chapter 5), we turn next to examine how features of Augustine’s epistemology and ethics corroborate the view of education for which we have thus far argued.

    Augustine’s early work on epistemology is experimental. Scholars...

  12. CHAPTER 7 The Purposes of Liberal Education
    (pp. 227-232)

    We began with Augustine’s observation that just as no one lacking what he wants can be happy, so also not everyone who has what he wants is happy either. For Augustine, like Cicero, Plato, and Aristotle, moral philosophy is born of the double desire to know what good we should want and to know how best to obtain it. The early Latin and Greek fathers benefited immensely from the classical tradition of liberal education they inherited. And yet, as we discovered in our opening chapter, few attempts were made to relate that education to the goals embedded within Catholic theology....

    (pp. 233-248)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 249-252)