Thursday, April 19, 2012

More on Augustine, Confessions

There really is a large amount of interesting things that Augustine says. Don't misunderstand my irritation at his thoughts on infancy to to mean that he should be ignored. For instance:

  • He must have been consumed by lust when he was a young man. He writes about the 'madness of lust'. Augustine wished that his friends had urged him to channel that lust into marriage but instead they concentrated on his speaking skills.

  • Augustine was a fan of the theater, especially tragedies. He grieved along with the actors, and praised those that made him grieve the most. This, he contrasted with the universal desire for joy and thought that the seeming contradiction had to do with the passions that are released.

  • He questioned the value of a liberal education if it wasn't accompanied by a higher faith. That includes this wonderful bit here: "For I had my back to the light, and my face to the things enlightened; whence my face, with which I discerned the things enlightened, itself was not enlightened." I don't know how true that is but it's a lovely metaphor.

  • "It was, that the Scriptures of the New Testament had been corrupted by I know not whom, who wished to engraff the law of the Jews upon the Christian faith; yet themselves produced not any uncorrupted copies." I read this as a Jewish intrepretation of the New Testament ideals had made the church to bound by rules and tradition.

  • Augustine was privy to an experiment to test astrology. Two children were born at the same time, one to a wealthy man and another to a slave. He argued that there was no possible reading of the stars that would account for how different their lives must necessarily be. Mind you, this was back in the fourth century. More than 1600 years later, this still isn't seen as proof.

A very interesting man.

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