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The Augustinian Person

Peter Burnell

Publication Year: 2012

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

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The purpose of this book is to make plain Augustine’s often implicit notions of person and human nature. The reader will notice that this enterprise entails correcting numerous twentieth-century criticisms of Augustine’s thought. It would be a serious misunderstanding to conclude from this that the book is intended merely to defend him against his critics. ...


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pp. xi-xiv

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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 ...

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1. The Soul and Body

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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 ...

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2. The Faculties of Personality

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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 ...

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3. The Stages in the Human Condition

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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; ...

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4. Humanitas

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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: ...

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5. Citizenship in God

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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 ...

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6. Human Nature and Person

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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.) ...

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7. Three Open Questions

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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 ...


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pp. 205-208


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pp. 209-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780813215891
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813214184

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1st ed.

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Subject Headings

  • Theological anthropology -- Christianity -- History of doctrines -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
  • Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo.
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