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Reading Augustine's Confessions Lecture 2: Books I and II


Reading Augustine's Confessions Lecture 2: Books I and II Dr. Ann T. Orlando Three Part Analysis Historical and philosophical background on each Book Historical and ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Reading Augustine's Confessions Lecture 2: Books I and II

Reading Augustine's ConfessionsLecture 2 Books
I and II
  • Dr. Ann T. Orlando

Three Part Analysis
  • Historical and philosophical background on each
  • Historical and social context
  • Intellectual movements
  • People
  • Key aspects of the Book itself
  • Truth about human nature
  • Epistemology
  • Language
  • Evil and sin
  • Love and Happiness
  • Truth about Creation
  • Truth about God
  • Connections between Book understudy and other
  • Influence of Confessions
  • Impact in later intellectual history
  • How does this theological reflection touch us

Roman Africa
  • Ancient Roman Province, dating to Roman conquest
    of Carthage in last Punic Wars, 146 BC
  • Economically prosperous
  • Capital city Carthage, rebuilt after the wars
  • By Augustines time, it was proudly Roman
  • One of few areas of Mediterranean where Greek was
    not much spoken
  • Greatest Latin orators were said to come from

Roman Africa (cont.)
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Roman Family
  • Defined very broadly
  • Husband, wife, children
  • Business clients
  • Servants, slaves
  • Common practice of adult adoption
  • Ruled by father, paterfamilia
  • Sons and others governed by father until his death

Roman Education
  • Primary school most boys
  • 7 to 12 years old
  • Teacher magister taught mixed age class
  • Reading, writing and arithmetic
  • Discipline through corporal punishment
  • Secondary School,
  • Wealthy and precocious boys, 12 15
  • Teacher grammaticus
  • Emphasis on Latin language and some Greek
  • Orator School 15 - 20
  • In major cities, for most ambitious and brightest
  • Teacher was orator
  • Emphasis on rhetoric
  • Preparation for important careers in law courts
    and administration

Virgil and the Aeneid
  • Virgil (70 19 BC) most famous and important
    Roman poet
  • Aeneid most famous work
  • Roman children learned Latin by studying Aenied
  • Learned the great myth of Roman history
  • Story of Aeneas after fall of Troy
  • Travels around the Mediterranean
  • Meets Dido in Carthage, falls in love but must
    leave her to continue to Italy and Rome
  • Already an old classic by Augustines time

Christianity in Fourth Century Africa
  • Earliest Latin theologians come from Africa
  • Tertullian (d. 212)
  • St. Cyprian (d. 257)
  • Embroiled in questions of how pure should
    Church be
  • No one should seriously sin after Baptism
  • Those who did should not be forgiven and admitted
    back into Church
  • Majority of Christians were Donatists, who
    believed in the Church of the Pure
  • Effectiveness of sacraments was dependent on
    personal holiness of minister
  • Bitter, bitter foes of Augustine
  • Baptism as adults (Catholics and Donatists)

Confessions Structure
  • Augustine's Reflection on His Past
  • Book I From God birth and relationship of
    infant with mother
  • Book II Bondage of Flesh
  • Book III Slavery of eyes and mind problem of
  • Book IV Ambition of World
  • Book V Encounter with Faustus, Manichaeism,
    philosophy moving from Carthage to Rome
  • Book VI Recognition of emptiness of worlds
  • Book VII Freedom of mind resolution of problem
    of evil
  • Book VIII Liberation from bondage of flesh
  • Book IX Relation to Monica, her death, return to
  • Augustines Present
  • Book X Memory
  • Book XI Time
  • Book XII Interpreting Scripture
  • Book XIII Trinity and Church

Outline of Book I
  • Opening Prayer I.i.1 I.v.6
  • Infancy I.vii.12
  • Natural Learning and Primary School I.viii.13
  • Early Illness I.xi.17 I.xi.18
  • Secondary School I.xii.19 I.xviii.29
  • Early Sins I.xix.30
  • Closing Prayer I.xix.31

Book I Opening Prayer I.i.1 I.v.6
  • Begins with a prayer, a Psalm
  • But quickly includes references to 2 Cor., Rom.,
    and Mt.
  • Includes one of most famous lines from Augustine
    Our heart is restless until it rests in You.
  • Note the importance of questions, many of which
    will not be directly answered
  • Note the importance of paradoxes about Gods
    nature (and our limited ability to understand
    God) in I.iv.4
  • This prayer is echoed at the end of Book XIII
  • Sets the tone of the entire work as a
    theological reflection

Book IInfancy I.6.7 I.7.12
  • infantia Latin, noun meaning inability to speak
  • Note I.6.7 begins with Augustine asking God to
    allow him to speak in Gods presence
  • Trace development of babies
  • Helpless (but only because of weakness)
  • Laughter
  • Not innocent
  • Parents care for babies, and babies grow, as part
    fo Gods plan, in accordance with eternal law
  • Note how adults react to babies
  • An enduring, unanswered question for Augustine
    does human soul pre-exist conception
  • Discussion of God and time will be significantly
    expanded in Book XI

Book I Natural Learning and Primary School
I.8.13 I.10.16
  • Augustine becomes a boy when he can talk
  • Learns to talk so that he can make his desires
    better understood
  • Relationship between actual object and words
    which signify them
  • Forced learning at school nothing like natural
    learning of language
  • First prayer was to avoid being beaten at school
  • Note how adults are like children, although
    adults laugh at children

Book I Early Illness I.11.17 I.11.18
  • Augustine almost baptized due to early illness
  • Common practice not to baptize until later in
    adult life
  • Example of Ambrose
  • Note comparisons between bodily health and
    physical health
  • Jesus as physician of the soul
  • Church as hospital for the sinful
  • Note more said about baptism here than in Book IX

Book I Secondary School I.12.19 I.18.29
  • Augustine must be forced to learn
  • Sinfulness of parents and teachers who put
    pressure on him to succeed in thinks of the world
  • Sinfulness of himself as a boy unwilling to learn
    So tiny a child, so great a sinner
  • Augustine does not learn Greek
  • Greek language of the Bible
  • Differences between natural and forced language
  • Comparison of wanderings and love of Aeneas and
    Dido and his own wanderings in search for true
  • Use of language in education to teach errors, not
    the Truth
  • Problems with rhetoric as a career

Book I Early Sins I.19.30 I.20.31
  • Is this childhood innocence?
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Cheating
  • My sin consisted in this, that I sought
    pleasure, sublimity and truth not in God but in
    his creatures, in myself and in other created

Book II Outline
  • Developing Sexuality II.i.1 II.ii.4
  • His Parents Reaction II.iii.5 II.iii.8
  • Stealing the Pears II.iv.9 II.x.18

Book II Developing Sexuality II.i.1 II.ii.4
  • Dual wakening of sexual desire and personal
    ambition in Augustine
  • But erotic awakening does not lead to happiness,
    quite the contrary
  • Where was I in the sixteenth year?
  • Only concern of family was his career
  • Both ambition and lust resolved in Book VIII

Book II His Parents Reaction II.iii.5 II.iii.8
  • Patricius
  • Augustine writes very little about him a convert
    very late in life
  • Worked hard to save money to send Augustine to
    best school in Carthage, my father had more
    enthusiasm than cash
  • No moral guidance from his father
  • Patricius very happy over prospect fo
  • Monica
  • A main character
  • Born into a Catholic family
  • Some moral guidance for Augustine, at least dont
    get involved with a married woman
  • Also eager for grandchildren see how this will
    change at conclusion of Book VIII

Book II Stealing the Pears II.iv.9 II.x.18
  • Augustine and a group of friends steal pears
    after carousing late one night
  • A great meditation on true and false friendships
  • Effect of community and society on actions
  • Note especially how turning to the wrong things,
    away from God leads to sins (
  • Sins as disordered desires
  • Sins which have the wrong object
  • Sins cannot satisfy these desires
  • Note that the great climax in Book VIII also
    occurs in a garden under a tree

Influence of Confessions Book I and II
  • New Literary Genre
  • Theory of Language

New Literary Genre
  • Biographies and autobiographies were part of
    ancient literature
  • But a soul-searching prayer and theological
    reflection are new
  • Includes some elements of autobiography, BUT
  • Augustine gives us little specifics,
  • Certainly does not cast himself in the best light
  • His prayer as a way to help his fellow
    pilgrimsBook X

Language Augustines Theory of Signs
  • A thing (res) is an external reality
  • Sign (signum) is something sensed which shows the
    mind something else
  • Natural signs, e.g. smoke indicating fire
  • Conventional or given (data) signs
  • Words (verbum) are a type (but not the only type)
    of given signs
  • De Doctrina Christiana (Teaching Christianity)

Augustines Theory of Language
  • Human communication of reality is by the signs of
  • Inherent ambiguity of how to use words
  • Denotation vs connotation
  • Language is not unique
  • Multiple languages not only with different words
    but with different structures
  • Same sounding word can mean different things in
    different languages (e.g., lege)

Relation Between Language and Thought
  • What is to be said is in the heart, the inner man
  • Only when it is to be communicated is the choice
    of specific language made
  • Matching the differences in your audience you
    employ different languages in order to produce
    the word you have conceived but what you have
    conceived in your heart was confined to no
    language. (Tractates on John 3.14.7)
  • We learn language as a child by learning to
    associate words with thoughts, feelings and things

The Unambiguous Word Jesus Christ
  • The Word is the perfect eternal Truth (no
  • Word became flesh to cure our corrupt souls
  • Perfect Word becomes perfect man
  • Mediator of grace to us
  • Confessions VII, Epistles and Tractates on John

Augustine and Sacraments
  • Sacraments are a movement from visible to
    invisible, from ordinary experience to spiritual
  • Sacraments as visible divine word
  • Sacrament both sign and reality of the mystery
    (spiritual reality) of Christ
  • Scripture as a sacrament
  • Interpretation of Scripture as a Sacrament
  • Creed and Lords Prayer as Sacraments
  • Triduum
  • Church is the authority that mediates sacraments
    (including Scripture)
  • Baptism
  • Eucharist theory of sacrifice CoG X.4-6
  • Sermon 272, 228

Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • Born in Vienna in 1889
  • Moved to Cambridge in 1911 and developed close
    relation with Bertrand Russell
  • Returned to Austria and fought in WW I
  • POW
  • After WWI settled permanently in Cambridge
  • Died in 1951

Wittgenstein and Language
  • The only problem in philosophy is language
  • Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was first
    published in German in 1921, shortly after in
  • Thought is more like a picture than language
  • Language used to express thoughts
  • Philosophical Investigations was published
    posthumously in 1953 (translated and edited by
    G.E.M. Anscombe)
  • A type of reconsideration of earlier work
  • Begins with Augustine and language
  • Augustines ostensible model of language too
    limiting in particular does not account for how
    words change within context of use
  • Develops language-game as a way to describe
    language but rules of game are not static

Some Things To Notice As you Read
  • Augustine is always asking questions, even if he
    never gets to an answer
  • Augustine's use of Scripture, especially Psalms,
    as he reflects on his life
  • The difference between true and false friendship
  • Effects on Augustines education of
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Teachers
  • Reading

Book I and II Questions to Consider
  • Are babies cute and innocent? What might this
    imply about human nature?
  • What do you think of his parents reaction to his
    sexuality as a teenager?
  • What was our earliest prayer? Do we have any
    prayers other than prayers of petition?

Questions to ask in all Books
  • How is Augustine modern?
  • What is love?
  • What is friendship?
  • What is sin and evil?
  • What role does faith play in Augustine's life?
  • Where is happiness found?

  • Read carefully Confessions Books I and II
  • On Christian Teaching, Book II (optional)
  • Brown, Augustine of Hippo, Chapters 1, 2 and 3
  • Post one long paragraph by Friday June 4
  • Post two responses by Sunday June 6
  • Remember
  • Focus on Augustine, not secondary sources
  • References should be Book.Chapter.Paragraph
    (e.g., I.i.1) NOT page numbers
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