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Happiness and Wisdom

Augustine's Early Theology of Education

Ryan N. S. Topping

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

A number of fellow Augustinian scholars offered advice, friendship, and good conversation over the duration of this writing, among whom I would like to thank the following...


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pp. ix-xii

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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...

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1. Liberal Education prior to St. Augustine

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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...

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2. Education in Augustine’s Moral Theology

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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...

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3. The Perils of Skepticism

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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...

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4. The Liberal Arts Curriculum

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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...

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5. Pedagogy and Liberal Learning

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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...

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6. Authority and Illumination

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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...

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7. The Purposes of Liberal Education

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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...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 233-248


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pp. 249-252

E-ISBN-13: 9780813219745
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813219738

Page Count: 259
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1