Rusyniak 1 Christopher Rusyniak Professor Brown Perspectives: PL09008 February 9, 2008 “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?

” asked Tertullian rhetorically. Saint Augustine had a simple answer and that is “everything.” Saint Augustine held the genuine belief that religion and philosophy could and must be intertwined to understand either correctly. In order to merge these, seemingly contradictory perspectives he has to develop a completely new worldview that is based on the acceptance, rejection, or acceptance in part of the various doctrines proposed by prominent philosophers and theologians. The author of the quote, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” was obviously not one of the philosophers Augustine really accepted. Tertullian belonged to a sect called the Stoics. The Stoics philosophy was based on numbness to the world. They did not care what happened to them, they would just pursue truth and good. They taught themselves to be numb to pain, social repulsion, and degradation. Augustine dealt with their philosophy sternly in a good portion of book four and five of the City of God. He transitions from speaking of the unity of the body and the soul and how their partnership cannot be severed, no does not exist without the other to a commentary on Stoicism. “Turn, now, to the primary endowments of the soul: senses to perceive and intelligence to understand the truth. How much sensation does a man have left if, for example, he goes blind and deaf?” Augustine laughs at the Stoic notion that one can live through anything and still be happy. As his most powerful allusion he makes an example of their once leader Cato. Cato killed himself because he could not “bear the victory of Caesar.” Making believe you are happy

Rusyniak 2 while you are truly not happy is not a virtue in Augustine’s works, it is merely a superfluous display of pride. Augustine did, although not often, respect one skeptic, and that was Cicero. Even though he was a champion of rhetoric, it was Cicero’s passion for philosophy and it as a mean to travel to the end which is realization of the highest good. He “longed for the immortality of wisdom with an incredible ardor in [his] heart.” Instead of reading Cicero’s work for structures of rhetoric he read it for its content. It was after this experience that he decided to read the Bible for the first time, but could not bring himself to accept it because of its primitive language. It is this work however that causes Augustine to recollect himself and realize that he must stop living this unfulfilling indulgent life. More so than any other theme prevalent in the Confessions was his utter hatred and abandonment of the philosophy that is Manichaeism. Many of the principles that he develops as his own philosophies germinated as arguments against this way of deciphering the universe. Augustine depicts this theory as almost a completely improbable, but comically entertaining work of science-fiction, at the crux of which is the impression that God is in constant battle with an opposing force of evil. God is a “luminous body”, and the evil in opposition is “a malignant mind creeping through the earth.” It also makes claims as foreign as eclipses signifying wars on heavenly bodies, and that a portion of God is in every beings soul. All these conclusions and more appear to be obviously flawed in the eyes of Augustine in his later life. Why would God create evil, only to fight it on the battlefield that is the human soul, giving that soul no sovereignty over its own actions. He realizes in his later life that they were hung up on the passages in Genesis which stated the human race was created in the image of God, meaning that God must be a substantial entity, literally out of substance.

Rusyniak 3 Fortunately, Augustine stumbled upon the teachings of the Platonists which rescued him from what he would later deem ludicrous. Evil he determined was not an alternate to good, but rather its absence or lack, furthermore a distancing from God. Therefore, there is a hierarchy of good from least good to highest good, which is God. Towards the end of his work he is able to identify memory and recollection as the yearning of the soul to know what came before its birth. “In filling all things, you fill them all with the whole of yourself” states Augustine. This refers to the Neo-Platonist theory that agrees with the Book of Genesis in so that God created everything and everything exists because God wills it to exist. And since God created us, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” appetite impossible to satisfy. Confessions, in the form of a prayer is a medium in which Augustine is able to vent and reconcile his confusion concerning the Bible. One of the larger problems he has with it is the problem of faith. At first he is unable to comprehend why someone would accept something that is not explicitly proven. He realizes that it is that much more rewarding to realize it for yourself, and the to a professional in the field of rhetoric it is attractive as anyone can persuade, but the church is modest enough to simply require faith. The work is written so that it depicts his life, going from immense disorder to and increasingly calm with him understanding more and more of the highest good as the pseudo autobiography proceeds. He goes through agreeing with and dismissing ideas of various The center of our being will always be hungry, an

philosophers and theologians to determine his own understanding of God.