Saint Augustine: The Christian Philosopher

Light of truth

Augustine was born at Thagaste in North Africa. He was one of the key figures in the transition from classical antiquity to the middle Ages. He lived nearly eighty years of the social transformation, political upheavals, and military disasters that are often referred to as the ‘decline of the Roman Empire.’ Augustine was a Manichaean during his early years as a student and teacher of rhetoric at Carthage and Rome. But in Milan, during his early thirties, he began to study Neo- Platonic Philosophy under the guidance of Ambrose. An account of his early life and conversion, together with a reasoned defense of his Neo-platonic principles, may be found in his writing ‘confessions.’ He was named the Bishop of Hippo in 396, and devoted the remaining decades of his life to the formation of an ascetic religious community. He is a great Christian philosopher who exerted the deepest and most lasting influence.

He is a saint of the Catholic Church, and his authority in theological matters was universally accepted. Because of his importance for the philosophical tradition of the middle Ages he is often listed as the first medieval philosopher. Augustine was influenced by Neo-Platonism because he saw this philosophy as a doctrine capable of helping the Christian faith to become aware of its own internal structure and to defend itself with rational arguments, elaborating itself as theology.

According to Augustine knowledge is certain and attainable. One should believe in order that one may understand. God is the source of all truth. It is He who illumines our mind to attain knowledge. God created the world out of nothing by His free will. His existence is essential condition of the moral and intellect life. Speaking of evil he says God is not the author of evil bur he permits in order that good may take place. The goal of man should be supreme good/ God. It is lasting and the rest are temporary.

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