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Augustine's Love of Wisdom

An Introspective Philosophy

by Vernon Bourke

Publication Year: 1992

Augustine's Love of Wisdom is an analytical and interpretive focus on the first thirty chapters of book ten of Augustine's Autobiographical Confessions. Bourke provides a rich synthesis of key tenets of Augustine's psychology in the context of his philosophical system and selects the most intensive writing of Augustine on the intricacies of the human psyche, providing the reader with insight on an Augustinian explanatory method, introspection.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: History of Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v


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pp. vii

PART ONE: Introduction

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CHAPTER ONE. Life and Writings of Augustine

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pp. 3-16

The Hortensius is no longer extant in its original format, but we know some of its content from passages quoted by later writers, including Augustine.2 Among other things, Cicero wrote: "If it is necessary to philosophize, then one must philosophize; if it is not necessary to philosophize, one must still philosophize, for it is only ...

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CHAPTER TWO. Background and Methodology

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pp. 17-31

Western philosophy took its origin from the quarrel between faith and reason in ancient Greece. From the time of Thales (6th century B.C.) on, the myths of Hesiod and Homer were challenged by those who demanded factual data and rational explanations. But it is also the case that religious tenets have nearly always influenced ...

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pp. 32-52

Like Plotinus, Augustine saw all existing beings arranged on three distinct levels. At the top is the immutable God, subject to no change, perfect in all ways. On the bottom is the world of bodies, imperfect in their mutability, for they change continually, both in place and time. At the middle layer of being are souls, subject to ...


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CHAPTER FOUR. Confessions, 10.1-30, Latin and English

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pp. 55-114

The Latin text is reprinted, with permission, from The Confessions of Augustine, edited by John Gibb and William Montgomery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1927), 272-305. (This text, with informative notes in English, does not differ significantly from the more recent critical edition of M. Skutella, 1934, reprinted ...

PART THREE: Commentary

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CHAPTER FIVE. Searching for Divine Wisdom

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pp. 117-127

This begins an explanation of a text selected from Augustine's Confessions (10.1-30) that is pivotal in the development of his philosophic thinking. The first nine books of this work told the story of his life up to the time of his return to North Africa from his years of teaching in Rome and Milan. Like many other Platonists, the young ...

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CHAPTER SIX. How God Is Known and Loved

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pp. 128-141

In these next three chapters, Augustine turns to God's knowledge of him, to his knowledge of God, and then to his love of God. We may compare these chapters with a passage in the Soliloquies (2.1.1), where Augustine simply says: "May I know myself, may I know Thee" (noverim me, noverim Te). ...

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CHAPTER SEVEN. Memory and Its Wonders

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pp. 142-155

This begins Augustine's profound study of memory (memoria), a term that covers much more than the remembrance of things past. Memory is a feature of the soul that extends far beyond the consciousness of retained or present experiences, to projections into the future, and to some aspects of the subconscious mind.1 ...

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CHAPTER EIGHT. Deeper into Memory

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pp. 156-165

Analysis 10.13.20: At the end of 12.19, Augustine spoke rather defiantly about a critic who ridiculed him for thinking that there are imageless objects of recollection. "I shall pity him for laughing at me" (rideat me ista dicentem, qui non eos videt, et ego doleam ridentem me), he says. So he begins chapter 13 with the claim, "I ...

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CHAPTER NINE. Oblivion and Transcendence

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pp. 166-178

The next four chapters (16-19) introduce a number of problems having to do with forgetting and with the possibility of transcending ordinary experience in consciousness and rising to a union with perfect divine wisdom. Some of Augustine's queries here have been called abstruse, l but he admits that sometimes one becomes a ...

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CHAPTER TEN. Happiness and Immortality

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pp. 179-190

Throughout chapters 20 to 23, Augustine tries to convince his readers that the ''happy life" (beata vita) for humans is really the life of "blessedness" (beatitudo). That is to say, he sees no possibility of true human self-perfection apart from God. In this context, Augustinian philosophy is obviously theocentric. It will not work without a ...

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CHAPTER ELEVEN. Eternal Truth in Memory

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pp. 191-201

Augustine continues in chapters 24 through 27 to ask many questions about his search for the highest wisdom, but now he is less tentative in suggesting some answers to his queries. It is through the attribute of divine truth that he finds the best ground for his assertions. ...

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CHAPTER TWELVE. Wisdom and Sensuality

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pp. 202-209

At the end of his introspective study of memory, Augustine has turned to a poetic chant of praise directly addressed to God as the source of beauty, justice, wisdom, and all higher values. This hymn continues in chapters 28 through 30, with which our commentary will terminate. ...


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pp. 210-214


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pp. 215-224


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pp. 225-234

E-ISBN-13: 9781612490472
E-ISBN-10: 1612490476
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557530264
Print-ISBN-10: 1557530262

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: History of Philosophy