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St. Augustine s philosophy of man reconciles and brings together to an admirable synthesis and harmony the wisdom of Greek philosophy and the divine truths contained in the scriptures. In common with Greek ethics, its being eudaimonistic in character, as it makes happiness the end-all and the be-all of human living; but Augustine tells us with the Bible that this happiness can be found in GOD alone. The summum bonum which is Plato s and Aristotle s concept of the absolute and immutable and is now seen by Augustine with the aid of the light of divine revelation as the living personal God, the creator of all things and the supreme ruler of the universe. So, the idea of the Good of Plato is revealed, to Augustine as the living reality, God.

Augustine answers this question with the words of the scriptures that God is Love; teaches that mortality consists in love, since it is love that makes us like unto Love (God). Thus, the first and the greatest of all the commandments, one that contains by implication all the rest in the decalogue, becomes the basis and the central point of Augustine s Christian ethics.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul and with thy whole strength: and for love of God thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Life to Augustine is a dialectic movement towards Love.
Virtue, which is the art of living rightly and well, has been defined by Augustine as the order of love. A virtuous life is a dynamism of the will which is the dynamism of love, a constant following of and turning towards love, while a wicked life is a constant turning away from love. To love God means necessarily to love one s fellowmen, and to love one s fellowmen means never to do any harm to another, or, as the golden principle of justice requires, to do unto others as you would others do unto you.

- the two foundation stones of individual as well as social ethics AGAINST HEDONISM AND STOICISM. . . . .

Happiness, we all know, comes with the possession of some good; but where, or, in the possession of what good is perfect happiness to be found? Is it in the goods of the body as well as the goods of this world such as health, beauty, power, honor, fame? Augustine, speaking directly from experience, that these and the possession of these can never give to man what he is truly looking for, as these goods are finite, unstable and ephemeral, whereas man craves

for perfect, immutable and enduring. On this ground, he rejects Epicureanism which proposes earthly and bodily pleasure as the ultimate end of man. How about the goods of the soul, such as wisdom, virtue and all their forms? The wise men of all ages are all praise for virtue, and even Aristotle places the summum bonum of human existence in virtue in which he says, man s perfection is to be found. According to Augustine, these treasures of soul cannot fulfill the supreme purpose for which man is made. For virtue in this life does not necessarily mean happiness. The Stoics view would do away with the passions and bodily desires, but man is a rational animal, a creature endowed both with reason and passion inseparably linked together in his nature. All things come from God and each has a specific purpose to fulfill in the all-embracing plan of divine providence. Hence, the passions are not to be annihilated such as the Stoics taught; they have only to be guarded and controlled by reason. The passions are in themselves good; they become bad only when they go beyond or defeat the purpose for which God has intended to them. To Augustine, virtue means the constant harmonizing and ordering of all the activities of the human personality towards love under guiding inspiration of love.


Augustine upholds the supremacy of the church which takes care of the spiritual well-being of the citizens over the state which administers to the temporal well-being of the body. The church and the state cannot be separated from each other anymore than the body can be separated from the soul in man s present existence on earth. Hence, the obligation of all citizens to obey laws and properly constituted civil authority for the maintenance of peace and order for their own good. Augustine proposes love, the central point of philosophy.

That the will is free, and that it is at the same time irresistibly drawn towards the good, are indubitable facts. - Augustine How can the will be free and bound at the same time? How to reconcile liberty and necessity, freedom and law, existing together in a human being? - to the Greek philosophers as well as the Oriental sages, that man is naturally drawn to the good as naturally and irresistibly, for instance, as the stone is bound to the earth by gravity. Nothing is more real than the law: invisible to the eyes and impalpable to the ears, we cannot for any moment of our existence escape it. - Confucius Augustine showed that , while man is free physically, he is morally bound to obey the law. He can disobey the law, but he ought not to do so.

- governs the movements of irrational, non-free creatures or objects; does not admit the possibility of its being violated

- governs the voluntary acts of human beings and admits of the possibility of its being violated

Punishment is meaningless and incompatible with respect to physical law since according to this law, everything comes and occurs by necessity.

To Augustine belongs the credit of being the first to lay the science of ethics on its true foundation: freedom, law and love. THE EXISTENCE OF MORAL OBLIGATION
Augustine goes on to show the existence of the moral law within us. All men clearly perceive certain immutable and necessary truths impressed in and imposed on the mind- such as the principle of the non-contradiction, that of causality, and especially the golden principle of conduct; do good and avoid evil. ‡ These very laws are universal and immutable laws, whereas we are mutable and mortal creatures. Even the ungodly, Augustine observes, clearly discern the distinction between right and wrong: they rightly praise certain acts in the conduct of men, even if they do not observe and follow this norm in their lives. Augustine calls the Eternal Law, God, Himself or the Eternal Reason, that guides and leads all things to their proper ends.

This law, which is the Law of Conscience, ever admonishing us to do good and to avoid evil, is the proximate norm of morality. By way of his doctrine on liberty and moral obligation, Augustine approaches and tackles the great problem that baffles even the greatest minds of all ages: that of EVIL.

Moral evil in the world is from man s abuse or misuse of his freedom.
He teaches that Evil is the very negation and privation of being and, therefore, cannot be the object of God s positive act of creation. To Augustine, evil is non-being. Despite his concept of evil as something negative, Augustine sees the life of every man, the history of nations, and the whole human race as the story of constant struggle and conflict between two forces, two tendencies: that of good (inspired and motivated by love) and that of evil (impelled to and driven by hate).

Two camps in humanity:
- those imbued with the spirit of love, belonging to the city of Jerusalem - those with the spirit of the world and evil, belonging to the city of Babylon

Tell me if you love or not, Augustine would say, and I will tell what your life is and what your destiny will be.

CHAPTER 7 QUIZ 1-2. What are the 2 social institutions? 3-4. What are the 2 foundation stones of individuals as well as social ethics? 5-7. According to Augustine, it is the art of living rightly & well 8. Augustine considered evil as __________. 9. This law, which is the ______, ever admonishing us to do good and to avoid evil. 10. It governs the voluntary acts of human beings and admits of the possibility of its being violated. Prepared by: Borja, Pauline M. Cristobal, Ma. Cristina L. II-BN