Faith and reason in Augustine's thought
Sarvela, William Richard
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This thesis is divided into three chapters. The first chapter traces the development in Augustine's thought up to the time of his conversion. In the second chapter the nature of Augustine's conversion is discussed. The last chapter deals with the final development of faith and reason in Augustine. The primary source for the first chapter is Augustine's Confessions. The purpose of the chapter is to examine the various influences in Augustine's life which played an important role in the formulation of his philosophy. For twelve years the greatest attraction for him was Manicheism. This movement appealed to him for two reasons. First was the appeal to reason. The Manicheans claimed that no one was forced to believe any doctrines which could not be proven by simple use of reason. This was their criticism of the Church, that she taught doctrines which were based on fables and not on reason. The second attraction of the movement was a strong influence to Augustine during this period. He was greatly concerned over the existence of evil. In order not to attribute its existence to God, he accepted the Manichean dualism that there were two substances which formed the beginning of the world, one light and the other darkness. To the latter was attributed the existence of evil. Manicheism, however, was not completely honest in its claim to appeal to reason only. The system was full of fables which could not be proven. This revelation led Augustine into a period of skepticism. This was soon broken by the very positive influence of Neoplatonism. He was particularly indebted to the Neoplatonists for their teaching on incorporeal substance inasmuch as this clarified the conception of God for him. Neoplatonism also solved the problem of evil for him, saying that evil was not a substance; it was not being, rather it was privation. [TRUNCATED]
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