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The Existence of Augustinian ‘Metaphysics’

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Abstract

One might think that the title above raises an idle question. And indeed in a sense it does. Could a theologian get on with his business at all without reasoning in universal terms about what universally is? Lacking general notions on the nature of being-ingeneral, could he even begin to work out a theory of its Principle ? By what means could he then build a theology?

Keywords

Universal Term True Philosophy True Religion Sole Path Hebrew Text 
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References

  1. 1.
    “Porro si sapientia Deus est, per quern facta sunt omnia, sicut divina auctoritas veritasque monstravit (Sap. VII, 24-27); et Hebr. I, 2, 3), verus philosophus est amator Dei. (The City of God, VIII, 1 (PL 41, 224-225); italics added. “Obsecro te, non sit honestior philosophia Gentium quam nostra Christiana, quae una est vera philosophia, quandoquidem Studium vel amor sapientiae significatur hoc nomine.” (Against Julian the Pelagian, IV, 14.72 (PL 44, 774); italics added.Google Scholar
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    See preceding note.Google Scholar
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    Sermon XLIII, 7.9 (PL 38,253). Cf. Epistle CXX, I, 3 (PL 33,453); On St. John’s Gospel, XXXVI, 7 (PL 35, 1667).Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    “Haec est sapientiae et scientiae recta distinctio, ut ad sapientian pertineat aeternarum rerum cognitio intellectualis: ad scientiam vero temporalium reum cognitio rationalis.” The Trinity, XII, 15.25 (P L 42, 1012).Google Scholar
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    Cf. Soliloquies I, 6.13 (PL 32, 876); On St. John’s Gospel, XXXV, 8.3 (PL 35, 1658). The texts on this “illumination” are very numerous. See A. Martin, S. Augustini Philosophia, II, ch. 32 (ed. Fabre) for a collection of many of the principal statements concerning this celebrated and much controverted topic in Augustine; and one especially recommends the excellent gathering of texts by L. W. Keeler, S.J., Sancti Augustini doctrina de cognitione, Romae, 1934. It would be irrelevant for us to enter here into the problems and controversies involved.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    Confessions, X 23.33 (PL 32, 793); The Trinity, X, 3.5 (PL 42, 975); On the Blessed Life, II, II (PL 32, 965); 11, 14 (PL 32, 966); III, 18 (PL 32, 968), etc.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
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  8. 1.
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    E.g., Republic, VI, 508 E-509 B.Google Scholar
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    E.g., See Victorinus, On the Generation of the Divine Word (Liber de generatione Verbi divini, ch. 4-5), (PL 8, 1022; 13, 1027); The Book on Causes (Liber de Causis), e.g., Par 2, 5, 21 (ed. Bardenhewer, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1882, pp. 165, 168, 183; Pseudo-Dionysius, On the Divine Names (De divinis nominibus), IV, 3.Google Scholar
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    While this reading, based on the Septuagint (a Greek version of the O. T. made between 280 and 130 B. C), is not a perfectly literal rendering of the Hebrew original, that problem is here metaphysically irrelevant; for Augustine’s understanding of its ontological import agrees precisely with the Christian idea of God as the single Supreme Being and is therefore incompatible with any opposing metaphysical interpretation. It is pertinent to note that Augustine ascribes pre-eminent authority to the Septuagint because he firmly believed that God had provided that version for the instruction of the Gentiles even as He had provided the Hebrew text for the instruction of the Hebrews. That is why (according to Augustine) the Holy Spirit had inspired the Septuagint translators to deviate at times from the Hebrew text: only by doing so could they express the truth in the manner in which God willed it to be expressed to the Gentiles. See On Christian Doctrine, II, 15.22 (PL 34, 46); The City of God, XVIII, 43 (PL 41, 604). See below, Ch. X, p. 74 n. 3.Google Scholar
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    E.g., in Sermon VI, 3.4 (PL 38, 61); VII, 7 (PL 38, 66); The City of God, XII, 2 (PL 41, 350); The Trinity, V, 2.3 (PL 42, 912).Google Scholar
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  16. 5.
    Non dixit, Dominus Deus ille “omnipotens, “misericors,” “Justus,” quae si diceret, utique vera diceret. Sublatis de medio omnibus quibus appellari posset et dici Deus, “ipsum esse” se vocari respondit; et tamquam hoc esset ei nomen: “Hoc dices eis, inquit, Qui est, misit me.”Ibid. See above, note 3.Google Scholar
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    On the True Religion, XVIII, 35 (PL 34, 137).Google Scholar
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    Ibid. See Augustine’s lengthy development of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo in his treatise Against Felix the Manichean, II, 18 (PL 42, 547-48). Cf. C. O’Toole, The Philosophy of Creation in the writings of St. Augustine, Washington, 1944.Google Scholar
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    On the True Religion, XVIII, 36 (PL 34, 137).Google Scholar
  22. 6.
    Confessions, XII, 6.6 (PL 32, 827).Google Scholar
  23. 7.
    Ibid., also XII, 8.8 (PL 32, 829).Google Scholar
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    Op. cit., PL 8, 1022; PL 13, 1027.Google Scholar
  26. 2.
    Enneads, V, 1.7.Google Scholar
  27. 3.
    Enneads, V, 1.10.Google Scholar
  28. 4.
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  29. 5.
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  31. 1.
    Cf. Enneads, V, 5.6.Google Scholar
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    Enneads, V, 3.13.Google Scholar
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    See J. Anderson, The Bond of Beins, St. Louis: Herder, 1949, esp. pp. 67-68.Google Scholar
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    E.g., see L. Grandgeorge, Saint Augustin et le neéo-platonisme, Paris, Leroux, 1896; G. M. Manser, “Augustinus Philosophie in ihrem Verhàltnis und ihrer Abhàngigkeit von Plotin,” Divus Thomas, vol. X, 1932.Google Scholar
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    Summa Theologiae, I, q. 84, a. 5.Google Scholar
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    The City of God, VIII, I (PL 41, 224).Google Scholar
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    E.g., see On the True Religion, V, 8 (PL 43, 129); The City of God, VIII, 8 (PL 41, 232-33); VIII, 4 (PL 41, 227-29); The Christian Way of Life, 1,16.26 (PL 32, 1322); I, 8.13 (PL 32, 1316); I, 14.24 (PL 32, 1321).Google Scholar
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    Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 1, a. 2 and a. 6.Google Scholar
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    Cf. J. Maritain, Les degreés du savoir, Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 4th ed., 1946, ch. VII, 8; authorized English version: Distinguish to Unite or The Degrees of Knowledge, translated under the supervision of G.B. Phelan, New York: Scribners, 1959.Google Scholar
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    Maritain, op. cit., p. 595; English version, p. 300.Google Scholar
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    E.g., see The City of God, VIII, 8 (PL 41, 232-33).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1965

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Villanova UniversityUSA

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