Friday, May 16, 2014

Some Thoughts on Prayer

Back in 2009 the Maverick Philosopher had some interesting things to say about prayer Maverick Philosopher on Prayer .  I read it back then and did not think anything of it, but since then there have been some serious changes in my personal life and the depth of my faith.  When I first read his thoughts on prayer I was something of a deist.  I had been going through some pretty serious doubts about my faith, but since then my intellectual problems with the faith have been answered, and I also had a real conversion.  For the first time in my life I know what the inner witness of the Holy Spirit it is, and what this certainty that comes from the Spirit actually is.  Thus, when I stumbled across his post on prayer reading a few of his posts on Alexander Supertramp (the Pseudonym of the young man from the book Into the Wild) I felt the need to work through Bill's thoughts on the matter.

Now first, Bill evaluates differing forms of prayer.  He gives six.  First, is petitionary prayer which he views as the lowest and most childish form (Sorry, Jesus.)  Second, is petitionary prayer for spiritual needs though this is only a slightly less childish form of prayer.  Third, is prayers of thanksgiving. Fourth, would be prayers of aspiration the desire to transcend one's infirmities and finitude.  Bill says this type of prayer is "leaving oneself behind".  How a person can leave himself and still be himself is a head-scratcher, but more on that later.  Fifth, is what Bill calls mental silence.  Now this seems to be the emptying oneself of all desire, want, need, and even striving.  Sixth, Bill includes Simone Weil's idea of praying as if God does not exist.

Now, I am not sure what Bill's criterion is of evaluating prayer, but it seems arbitrary to me. 

Why would it be a bad thing to realize that the earth and all there is in existence comes from God's hand? That I petition God because the God-man commanded that we ask for things from God? Aren't Christians supposed to come to God as children? Now in a sense coming to God with the trust of a child is not childish, but prudent for the Christian who believes that God has acted in time and space. I just cannot follow Bill in his multiple levels of abstraction. The God of Christianity revealed himself in a specific time and a specific place to redeem that which he assumed (human nature). He cried out to God and asked that his cup of suffering would be taken from him. That is petition, and if Jesus did it then a Christians can do it. So much the worse for Bill's views on prayer.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Creator-Creation Distinction and the True, the Good, and the Beautiful or A Problematic Passage in "Lord and Servant: A Covenant Christology"

In Michael Horton's fine work Lord and Servant: A Covenant Christology I came across this passage that leaves me scratching my head.

Among the practical benefits of this doctrine is the realization that the good, the true, and the beautiful do not have to be justified in terms of their ontological participation in spirituality or divinity, but as divine creations that bear a divine benediction.  There is a real sense in which they are good in themselves, and not just to the extent that they participate in eternal forms, even if that form should be "God".

(Michael S. Horton, Lord and Servant: A Covenant Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005 pg. 78)

Now much of what Horton has said in this work is commendable.  He affirms aseity, simplicity, timelessness, and most of the classical package of Christian Theism.  In this respect he is much better than many theologians who would like to revise our concepts of God to fit a "dynamic", "changing" being. Though in this passage he seems to go off the rails.

What does it mean for truth, goodness, and beauty to be divine creations?

Can Truth be created?  If Truth was created would it be "true" that before truth was created that it didn't exist? These questions are absurd, and it should show that there is no way that truth could be a divine creation.  Rather, truth is part of the nature of God, and the "forms" that Horton refers to are God's thoughts.  To use the reformed distinction between ectypal and archetypal ideas, the forms would be the archetypal ideas that God has in his "mind". Truth, goodness, and beauty seem to me to be part of the divine essence.  Jesus said he was the way the truth and the life, and God is described as glorious, and good.  It isn't that God is dependent on these things because he is simple and they are all distinctions not divisions in the divine nature.  

This passage seems to be a package of confusions. Do I misunderstand Dr. Horton?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Biblical Origin of the Concept of Divine Omnipotence

"Some of the traditional attributes fall clearly into neither of the categories which have been distinguished- neither the biblical-personal nor the philosophical-metaphysical- and either appear to belong to both, or are assumed to belong to a class other than that to which they actually do belong.  An example of the latter class is omnipotence, which we shall meet again and again.  On the face of it, this appears to be an essentially metaphysical attribute, for it figures in the list of words beginning with "omni-" or 'all-' which appear to be metaphysical in character.  Yet the first systematic development of the concept was that of Irenaeus, a theologian whose theology was oriented rather to scripture than to philosophy, and the he achieved it on biblical grounds.  No Greek philosopher would attribute omnipotence to God, for all held that at least some aspects of the world were eternal, and therefore represented an eternal limit on what God- at least, any god conceived to be in some way distinct from the world- could both be a do.  Yet in the early Christian tradition it came to be one of the defining attributes of God."
Gunton, Colin E. Act and Being: Toward a Theology of the Divine Attributes, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 25-26.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Tentative Reading List

1) Augustine's City of God Volumes I & II.

2) Alasdaire MacIntyre's Whose Justice, Whose Rationality? I am currently finishing the last few chapters of After Virtue.

3)  Peter Watson's The Modern Mind 

4) Peter Watson's Ideas: a history of thought and invention, from fire to Freud 

5)  The Complete Works of Plato

6) Finishing working my way through Greek and Hebrew grammars.

These are the six book that I most certainly want to work through.  There are other books on my list, and I will add them at a later date.
 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Getting my M.A. in Biblical Studies.... For Free!

Thanks to Charles Halton over at Awilum.  You can check out his list of courses that equal an M.A. Here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Theism and Non-Theism

It seems that as far as worldviews are concerned we are reduced to a few options.  The selection of worldviews is not nearly as daunting as it is frequently made out.  I would divide worldviews into Theistic and non-theistic.  Why?

 First, Theism posits that reality is two fold or dualistic.  In theology this is known as the Creator/Creature distinction.  There is God who is not contained in a genus.  Unlike other things in the created contingent world that can be  defined in terms of genus and species (for instance, man is a rational animal; rational being the species and animal the genus)  God does not have a genus.  He is not in a category with other things.  This is mainly because God is simply unlike else.  In God there is no composition whether it be physical or metaphysical.  I would consider Deism to be a subset of theism, since the only difference between "theism" and "deism" is the issue of God's personal involvement, but this can get complicated.  It seems to me that they differ on the amount of divine influence.

Second, every other worldview is monistic, that is there is only one type of being.  I would even lump Zorastrian Dualism in this group, because the two divine beings cannot be ultimate, because there cannot be two ultimate beings.  If they were they would be identical, but what is identical is not separate, so for Dualism to be coherent there must be two non-maximally perfect beings.  Materialism, pansychism, pantheism, panentheism, etc. all posit a world in which the world is essentially one thing.

So,

I. Theism
     A. Religious Theism
     B.  Irreligious Theism (Deism)
II. Monism
     A. Materialism
     B. Atheism
     C. Pantheism
     D. Panentheism
   
My only question is where would Berkeleyian Idealism find its place?  For Berkeley the contingent universe is simply ideas in the mind of God.  I am not sure about this one.  I need to give it more thought.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Mind Illumined


A Mind Illumined

 A major question in the study of Saint Augustine’s epistemology is whether or not man can have direct knowledge of the forms in the mind of God.  Lydia Schumacher argues in her book “Divine Illumination: The History and Future of Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge” that the position, also known as ontologism, which holds that human knowers can “see” the Divine Ideas (forms,) is a misinterpretation of Saint Augustine’s philosophy by Franciscan scholars because it is overly influenced by the Islamic philosopher Ibn Sina.  She goes on to argue that divine illumination in Augustine does not imply some sort of external interference by God in the human knowing process.  The venerable Medievalist Etienne Gilson made an even more devastating critique in his saying that on Augustine’s view, “Truth is too good for man.”    In this paper I hope to show that these critiques of Augustine’s epistemology miss the mark.  First, the criticism that there is something wrong with interference by God in the human knowing process is a note of the psychology of the critique and not any real problem with Augustine.  Second, Gilson’s criticism is the more difficult, because it entails a contradiction in Augustine’s epistemology.  By responding to these criticisms I hope to show that Augustine’s theory of illumination is a viable epistemology and has usefulness in our own time.
So how exactly does Augustine develop his view of Divine Illumination? In order to understand Augustine we must understand something of his intellectual background.  Augustine did not know much of Aristotle.  He knew some of the logical works, but other than that he was limited in his exposure.  On the other hand Augustine had read the Platonic Dialogues, and also was conversant with the Neo-Platonism of the era.[1]  So it seems that it would be more reasonable to take passages that sound like Platonism as the best way to understand passages that touch on Augustine’s epistemology.
The first text that we need to look at is out of the work “Of the True Religion” Augustine says, “We must not have any doubt that the unchangeable substance which is above the rational mind, is God.  The primal life and the primal essence is where the primal wisdom is.  This is unchangeable truth which is the law of all the arts and the art of the omnipotent artificer.”  Like Plato[2] Augustine believes that the eternal forms are outside the human mind, but unlike Plato the forms are actually in the mind of God and Augustine says in this regard, “that the unchangeable substance which is above the rational mind, is God.”  So the ideas, according to which everything has been made, are outside the human mind but we also see from another text in “On Free Will” the “laws of beauty” are in the mind, because we see number and beauty in external things by turning inwardly. 
In “On Free Will” Augustine has been discussing the nature of truth with Evodius.  He says,
“When you are falling away to external things.  Whatever delights you in corporeal objects and entices you by appeal to the bodily sense, you may see is governed by number, and when you ask how that is so, you will return to your mind within, and know that you could neither approve nor disapprove things of sense unless you had within you, as it were, laws of beauty by which you judge all beautiful things which you perceive in the world.”[3]
Augustine is explaining to Evodius that the standards by which we judge of things are not of this world.  Abstract objects such as numbers, the rules of the syllogism, and other abstract ideas that we use to judge, count, and gain objective knowledge are nowhere in particular but can be used to assess all things.[4]
Unlike Aquinas, who simply thought that we have a faculty of abstraction and that the forms are in external objects, Augustine argues that we already have the ideas of number, equality, and beauty in our minds.[5]  He calls these laws “the laws of beauty” and it is by these things that we judge of objects in the world.   In the “Phaedo”  Plato makes similar points through the mouth of Plato.
In Plato’s work “Phaedo” Socrates argues that we know when two things are equal because we already have an idea of the “Equal Itself”. This idea provides an excellent example of the similarities between Augustine and Plato.  Socrates says, “Now see,” said he, “if this is true. We say there is such a thing as equality. I do not mean one piece of wood equal to another, or one stone to another, or anything of that sort, but something beyond that—equality in the abstract. Shall we say there is such a thing, or not?”[6] Plato goes on and asks his interlocutor whether or not he has ever seen to perfectly equal things in the world.  His friend says no.  From this discussion the reader is stuck with a dilemma either there is some innate standard in the human mind that gives us the reference point to judge of sensible particulars in the world.  When we think of all the circles in the world we can see that not anyone particular circle is circularity itself.  We have the standard of perfection in our minds already.
The interesting thing about Augustine’s account of the “Laws of Beauty” is observed by Ronald Nash. Nash notes the similarities between Plato and Augustine.  First, Augustine accepts a transcendent realm of essences or the forms.  Second, these essences are eternal and unchanging.  Unlike Plato Augustine viewed the forms as thoughts in the mind of God.  Augustine certainly agreed with the Platonists about the forms, and disagreed with the Aristotelians that the forms are in things, rather the forms are innate to the human mind, which is shed by the Divine Light.[7]
It is clear that Augustine should be firmly situated in the Platonic tradition of philosophy.  Augustine did not believe that we could grasp universal truths by simply looking out at the sensible world.  Rather, our knowledge of universals had to be a priori, just how we have this knowledge of the subject we must turn to now.
So how do human beings have innate a priori ideas? The answer to this question is scattered through Augustine’s works.  We first need to get a grasp on Augustine’s full theory of knowledge.  Augustine’s theory of knowledge is paralleled by his ontology.  Ontology deals with levels of reality.  At the bottom rung of the ladder there are bodies, human beings know the sensible world by the senses.  Second, there are also souls, which have the power of imagination.  Third, on the ladder is God and he has intellection or reason.  God is the Truth and it is by participating or receiving his light that we see everything else.  The human soul’s ability to know is divided into the ratio inferior which deals with the ability of the soul to know sensible bodies.  On the other hand there is the ratio superior which seeks to gain wisdom, which is God himself.[8]  
With this road map to reason and knowledge in Augustine we can move on.  Augustine’s ontology leads to a problem that any account of knowledge must come to terms.  It can be put into a question: How can the mutable reason of man grasp the immutable truths of reason?  We know from experience that our minds do not stay focused long and that we have a difficult time following a logical train of thought without interruption.  However, we also know that there are times where we simply know that a proposition is true without having to appeal to sense experience.  An example of these would be 7+ 3+=10 or If All A is B, All B is C, Then All A is C.  Once we grasp these ideas we simply know they are true.  We do not need to do an investigation in which we look at all the things that are seven and three and add them up to see that they equal 10.  It is the same way with the rules of the Syllogism they are universal rules.[9]  These are truths, and they never change, which is different than the mutability of our minds. So we have a mind that does incompatible things.
To give an example in Augustine we can look at his work “Soliloquies”In this work Augustine has a discussion with Reason.  Reason has been revealing to Augustine what Truth is.  Reason declares that “Truth remains one and immutable.”[10] However, the mind will depict shapes, for instance, through the imagination (phantasm) as differing in size, shape, and color.[11]  The intellect on the other hand sees the truth that is the form of the shape.  The “inner mind” which is the intellectual vision “seeks to turn to the ideal square by which all squareness is judged.”[12]  We see that there is a difference between the mind that deals with sensible things, the ratio inferior and the mind that deals with Truth, the ratio superior. So it seems that the human mind can do contradictory things for Augustine.  On the one hand it cannot grasp truths, because it deals with universal concepts such as squareness, but on the other it seems to not be able to grasp those things through sense experience or imagination because the mind is mutable but the Truth is immutable.  The mind does not have the resources in itself to grasp the Truth, yet the inner mind can turn and attempt to attain Truth.
Related to this apparent contradiction of how the mind is Augustine’s discussion of the Platonist’s views in “The City of God” Book X.  Augustine has been discussing the foundation of human happiness, and argues that the Platonists saw that all rational beings, human and angelic, receive their happiness from God.  Since happiness comes from a mind properly oriented toward God this text clearly ties into the idea of illumination. Augustine says,
“Plotinus also draws an analolgy between these incorporeal beings and the splendid corporeal bodies that we see in the heavens, likening God to the sun and the soul to the moon; for the Platonists suppose, of course, that the moon is illuminated by the light of the sun shed over it.  This great Platonist affirms, then, that the rational soul (or the intellectual soul, as we ought rather to call it ...  has no nature above it except the nature of God, who fashioned the world and by whom the rational soul itself was made.  Nor, he says, are the life of blessedness and the light by which the truth is understood granted to these supernal beings from any other source than the source fron which they are also granted to us.”[13] 

So in “The City of God” we have Augustine affirming that God is like the light of the sun illumining all the truths of reason.  Whereas before we have seen that the human mind cannot grasp these truths.  It seems, as Etienne Gilson, said, “Truth is too good for man.  As soon as there is truth, there is God.  How then can truth become ours? As long as it is God’s truth, it is unchangeable and necessary, i.e., truth itself.  As soon as it is created in us, it must be changeable, temporal and contingent like the intellect which receives it.  In this case, is it still truth?”[14] So, the problem for Augustine’s epistemology seems to be: If the mind of man is mutable, then he cannot know immutable truths. The mind of man is mutable, therefore, he cannot know immutable truths.  However, Augustine does not draw this conclusion. 
So how would Augustine get around the modus ponens argument just given?  It seems he is stuck in a quagmire.  Augustine acknowledges that the mind does these two things.  In “The Trinity” XII 2.2  he is discussing the higher faculties of man’s reason he says, “But it pertains to the loftier reason to make judgments on these bodily things according to non-bodily and everlasting meanings; and unless these were above the human mind they would certainly not be unchanging…”[15] So, in order for human beings to judge whether or not a syllogism is valid would require that we have knowledge, but since we cannot go through every syllogism, since there could be an infinite number to test the rules it is obviously not an empirical way of knowledge.  Since, these truths are unchanging and the human reason uses these principles as things above, they cannot be tied to the human mind. However, conversely these ideas cannot be simply above the mind, Augustine says,
“… and unless something of ours were subjoined to them we would not be able to make judgments according to them about bodily things. But we do make judgments on bodily things in virtue of the meaning of dimensions and figures which the mind knows is permanent and unchanging.”
This passage can be put in a Modus Tollens[16] format: If our minds are not subjoined with universals, then we would not be able to make judgments according to them about bodily things.  But we do make judgments on bodily things in geometry which the mind knows is permanent and unchanging. Therefore the mind is subjoined to universals.
This raises a question.  Did Augustine not realize the problem in his epistemology?  It looks as if he did.  In Ronald Nash’s work on Augustine’s epistemology he appeals to “Contra Faustum Manichaeum”,  
“And, again, the act of forming a conception of Alexandria, which I have never seen, is very different from thinking of Carthage, which I know.  But this difference is insignificant as compared with that between my thinking of material things which I know from seeing them, and my understanding of justice, chastity, faith, truth, love, goodness, and things of this nature.  Can you describe this intellectual light, which gives us a clear perception of the distinction between itself and other things, as well as of the distinction between those things, as well as of the distinction between those things themselves? And yet even this is not the sense in which it can be said that God is light, for this light is created, whereas God is the Creator; the light is made and He is the Maker; the light is changeable.  For the intellect changes from dislike to desire, from ignorance to knowledge, from forgetfulness to recollection; whereas God remains the same in will, in truth and in eternity.”
  This passage has many connections with the passage from “The City of God” Book X where Augustine is discussing the Platonists.  In that passage he also talks about how our minds reflect the divine light like the moon reflects the light of the sun.  This passage also makes sense of the passage “On Free Will” where he says that we turn inward to see the “laws of beauty”.   So, in the very nature of man God has given man a priori knowledge, it is a reflection of the divine mind, third it is the precondition of all scientia.[17]  This knowledge is upheld by God at every moment of his life, it is a constant impartation of the divine ideas into the mind of man.[18]
With it established that Augustine’s theory of knowledge is not contradictory there is one other problem that needs to be addressed.  This notion of Ontologism is often criticized because if God is Truth, and men see Truth, then that means that all men see God.[19]  This would be an unappetizing position for the advocate of Ontologism to take, but it appears that there is a way out.  For in Augustine there is a clear tripartite distinction in truth.  There is first the Truth that is God, then there are the divine ideas, and finally there are true things that can come into being and pass away.  The mind of man was endowed with eternal truths by which he judges the external world.  These eternal ideas are impressed upon our minds from outside of ourselves.[20] 
With this defense of Illuminative Ontologism I turn to the work of Lydia Schumacher.  Schumacher wrote “Divine Illumination: The History and Future of Augustine’s theory of Knowledge”. The first chapter deals with her interpretation of Augustine, and some of the problems that have been laid at his feet because of his epistemology.  She seems to accept these criticisms and tries to modify her interpretation of Augustine’s epistemology.[21]
Schumacher attempts to redefine Augustine’s epistemology because of the problems she believes an external interference causes for Illumination as classically put forward.[22] The first problem with her argument is what she accepts.  Schumacher calls the classically stated position of illumination as “divine interference” and an “undermining of the autonomy and integrity” of the human intellect.[23] If God is Truth which is immutable, then it is hard to see how the human mind could not need some form of “interference” from God.  It is God’s world after all, so what would it mean for God to “interfere” with his own creation.  Mrs. Schumacher never says. 
Mrs. Schumacher also gives us this summary of Illumination,
“What has been said to this point serves to bolster the contention that illumination for Augustine is the source of intrinsic cognitive capacity rather than any sort of intellectually offensive extrinsic conditioning.  So construed, illumination evades the problems commonly associated with the claims that the divine light interferes in the process of cognition or that it imposes the very content or certitude of thoughts.  By defining illumination as the source of the mind’s ability, however, I do not intend to imply that Augustinian Illumination has no bearing on cognitive processes content, or certainty.  This is manifestly not the case, in as much as the cognitive capacity is one that must be gradually recovered as the mind cultivates a habit of reasoning in the light of faith in God.”[24]

   A major problem with her thesis is that she never handles the problem passages that can be brought forth against her thesis.  She is trying to give a new spin on Augustine, but unless she can make all of those difficult passages that speak against her thesis it will simply not fly.
I would like to focus on three passages that clearly reveal that Augustine’s view of illumination is very similar to Plato’s reminiscence theory.  First, “Soliloquies” xx, 34. Reason is instructing Augustine on the difference between what a true figure and a phantasm.  In the midst of the discussion reason likens understanding what a true figure is to forgetting something, but knowing what it isn’t. She says, “A similar situation occurs when we see something and are quite certain we have seen it before.  We say we know it, but where, when, how, in whose company it came to our notice, we cannot recall without a great deal of trouble.”  Reason continues a little further along and says, “The face of Truth remains one and immutable.  The mind will depict a square now of this size, now of that and present it to the eye.  But the inward mind which seeks truth turns rather, if it has the power, to the ideal square by which all squareness is judged.”
From these passages it seems clear that Augustine through the mouth of reason is taking a similar position to Plato in the “Phaedo”.  She tells Augustine that we can forget truths, but our minds can remember these truths if our mind turns inward to find those a priori truths.  The forms are other than the human mind, and the mind must be illumined by them. 
   Another example can be found in “On Free Will”,
Do you, then, think, that this truth of which we have already spoken so much and in which we behold so many things, is more excellent than our minds, or equal to our minds, or inferior?  If it were inferior we should not use it as a standard of judgment, but should rather pass judgment on it, as we do on bodies which are inferior to our minds.  For of them we often say not only that it is so or is not so, but that it ought to be so or not so… All these judgments we make according to those inward rules of truth, which we discern in common.  But no man passes any judgment on these rules… For we say of our mind it understands less than it ought, or it understands exactly as it ought; and a mind approaches the proper standard of intelligence as it is brought nearer to unchangeable truth, and becomes able to cleave to it.  Hence if truth is neither inferior to nor equal to our mind it must be superior and more excellent.[25]

   It is evident from this passage that the divine ideas that are impressed on our minds from our birth have form and content.  This is directly contradictory to what Schumacher claims, “So construed, illumination evades the problems commonly associated with the claims that the divine light interferes in the process of cognition or that it imposes the very content or certitude of thoughts.”  The only problem with this main part of her definition is that it is wrong.   The one passage above from “On Free Will” refutes Schumacher’s thesis.
The major criticisms of Augustine’s theory of knowledge are not fatal.  In fact his theory of knowledge holds up remarkably well when compared to modern views of epistemology.[26]  So what does any of this matter?
            There has been something of an epistemological crisis in modern philosophy.  This can be seen in the works of people like Alex Rosenberg.[27] We live in a time where naturalism reigns supreme and many philosophers deny that there is any truth.  This is where Augustine’s illumination theory can go to work for Christians defending the faith.  In a paper The Lord of Non-Contradiction Greg Welty and James Anderson argue that the laws of logic exist because God exists.[28]  They argue that we would not know, nor could there be logical principles in a world without God.  This is clearly an Augustinian style argument that bears much fruit.

Works Cited

Anderson, James and Greg Welty. The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God From Logic. Philosophi Christi 13.2 (2011).
Augustine, Saint. The City of God (De Civitate Dei). Translated by William Babcock. Hyde Park: New City Press, 2012.
———. The City of God (De Civitate Dei). Translated by William Babcock. Hyde Park: New City Press, 2013.
———. The Teacher and Against the Academicians. Translated by Peter King. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1995.
———. The Trinity (De Trinitate). Translated by Edmund Hill, O.P. Hyde Park: New City Press, 2012.
———. Augustine: Earlier Writings. Edited by J.H.S . Burleigh. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 2013.
Chadwick, Henry. Augustine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Copleston, Frederick, S.J. A History of Philosophy Volume II: Medieval Philosophy. New York: Image Books, 1993.
Feser, Edward. The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism. South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2012.
Gilson, Etienne. The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine. New York: Random House, 1960.
Jordan, James. Western Philosophy: From Antiquity to the Middle Ages. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997.
Kreeft, Peter. Socratic Logic: A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions and Aristotelian Principles. Edition 3.1. South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2010.
Nash, Ronald. The Light of the Mind: St. Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge. Lima: Academic Renewal Press, 2003.
———. The Word of God and the Mind of Man. New York: Zondervan, 1982.
Rosenberg, Alex. “The Disenchanted Naturalist Guide to Reality” On the Human Blog, 2009.  Accessed September 16, 2013. http://onthehuman.org/2009/11/the-disenchanted-naturalists-guide-to-reality.html.
Becker, Gary. “Is Capitalism in Crisis?” The Becker-Posner Blog, February 12, 2012. Accessed February 16, 2012. http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2012/02/is-capitalism-in-crisis-becker.html.
Schumacher, Lydia. Divine Illumination: The History and Future of Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.


[1] Chadwick, Henry Augustine (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1986), .3.  Chadwick’s comment makes Augustine’s dependence on Platonism and Neo-Platonism clear.  He says, “He was the most acute of the Christian Platonists and did much to lay the foundations for the synthesis between Christianity and classical theism stemming from Plato and Aristotle.  Plotinus in the third century AD deeply influenced him by his systemization of the Platonic tradition, but Augustine also became one of the most penetrating of all critics of this philosophical tradition to which he himself owed so much. 
[2] “Phaedo 72e-77a” Perseus at Tufts University accessed September 12, 2013 http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0170%3Atext%3DPhaedo%3Asection%3D72e.html
[3] Augustine, On Free Will XVI,41 in Augustine: Earlier Writings (Philadelphia:Westminster Press, 1953), 161.
[4] See Nash quoting Augustine… “‘Concerning universals of which we can have knowledge, we do not listen to anyone speaking and making sounds outside ourselves.  We listen to Truth which presides over our minds within us, though of course we may be bidden to listen by someone using words.  Our real teacher is he who is so listened to, who is said to dwell in the inner man, namely, Christ, that is, the unchangeable power and eternal wisdom of God.’ While Augustine’s language sounds mystical, his point is philosophical.  Man knows the forms because God endows him with this knowledge and continually sustains his intellect in the knowing process.” Ronald Nash, Light of the Mind: Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge (Lima: Academic Renewal Press, 2003), 91.
[5]Copleston, Frederick. A History of Philosophy  Volume II: From Augustine to Duns Scotus. (New York: Image Books, 1993)., 389-390.  The difference between Aquinas and Augustine is that Aquinas’ concept of the intellect it active.  Augustine does not think that the human mind can grasp universal truths from the particulars of experience.  In this regard Augustine is a rationalist, because he thinks that the ideas are in a sense innate through divine illumination.
[7] Ronald Nash, The Word of God and the Mind of Man. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982)., 82-83. Maybe the best example of Augustine using this form of thought is in On Free Will in which he argues that we never see anything absolutely unified in the natural world.  Things have parts, but we have the concept of unity that we have never experienced.  This is a concept we come into the world with innately.  As Nash notes, “For Augustine, a human being does not acquire knowledge of the forms by sense experience, by Platonic recollection, or by teaching.               
[8] I was heavily dependent on Ronald Nash for this quick summary of Augustine’s theory of knowledge. See Ronald Nash, The Light of the Mind: St. Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge. (Lima:Academic Renewal Press, 2003), 5-11.
[9] There are seven rules of the syllogism. First, a categorical syllogism must have three terms. Second, A syllogism must have three and only three propositions. Third, the middle term must be distributed at least once. Fourth, No term that is undistributed in the premise may be distributed in the conclusion. Fifth, No syllogism can have two negative premises. Sixth, if one premise is negative, the conclusion must be negative, and if the conclusion is negative, one premise must be negative.  See Peter Kreeft, Socratic Logic: A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions and Aristotelian Principles. Edition 3.1 (South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2010) , 243.
[10] Augustine, Soliloquies in  Augustine: The Earlier Writings (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1953), 63
[11] Phantasms are not to be confused with abstract objects. In the Soliloquies Augustine asks Reason what the difference is between the imagination (phantasmata) and true figures. Here is the discussion: “I should like to ask you briefly to explain what is the difference between a true figure, such as is grasped by the intelligence, and one such as the imagination depicts, which in Greek is called a phantasy or phantasm. R.- None but the most pure can understand that, and you have had too little practice in philosophy to be able to see it… Suppose you have forgotten something and your friends want you to recall it to your memory.  They will say, “Is it this? Is it that?” mentioning various things of a similar kind.  You do not recall what you are seeking, but you know that it is none of those things they have mentioned.  Now surely what has happened is not entire oblivion?  For the discernment which refuses to accept a false suiggestion is itself a kind of memory.” Reason goes on to show that the imagination can only see as the sense do.  For instance we cannot see how it is possible for an infinite number of lines to be drawn through a circle, but reason tells us it can be done.  This is the difference between imagination and phantasm.  Interestingly enough all of David Hume’s philosophy is based on the collapsing of phantasm into abstacta.
[12] Ibid.   
[13] Saint Augustine, The Trinity Trans. William Babcock (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2012),  306-307.
[14]Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine (New York: Random House, 1960), 75.
[15] Saint Augustine, De Trinitate, Trans. Edmund Hill, O.P. (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2012), 323
[16] If –P, then –Q; Q, therefore P.
[17] Ronald Nash, The Light of the Mind: Saint Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge (Lima: Academic Renewal Press, 2003), 109.
[18] B.B. Warfield on this, “God, having so made man, has not left him deistically, to himself, but continually reflects into his soul the contents of His own eternal and immutable mind—which are precisely those eternal and immutable truths which constitute the intelligible world.  The soul is therefore in unbroken communion with God, and in the body of intelligible truths reflected into from God, sees God. Ibid., 111
[19] Etitenne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine (New York: Random House, 1960), 94
[20] Nash pg. 122.
[21] I find her lack of  reference to the clear Platonic references in Soliloquies, “On Free Will” and the discussion of the Neo-Platonist Plotinus as trying to establish a thesis without actually looking at the evidence.  It is clear that Aquinas misinterpreted, or conveniently incorporated, Augustine for his own purposes without allowing the Doctor of Grace to speak for himself.
[22] Lydia Schumacher, Divine Illumination: The History and Future of Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge (Oxford: Wilely-Blakcwell, 2011., 62.
[23] Ibid.,65
[24] Lydia Schumacher, Divine Illumination: The History and Future of Augsutine’s Theory of Knowledge (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 62.
[25]On Free Will xii, 33., 156
[26] See Edward Feser, “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2013).
[27] See Alex Rosenberg, “The Disencanted Naturalist Guide to Reality” On the Human (2009), accessed on Septermber 16, 2013, http://onthehuman.org/2009/11/the-disenchanted-naturalists-guide-to-reality/ Rosenberg  says, “If there literally are no beliefs and desires, because the brain can’t encode information in the form of sentences, then there literally is no such thing as linguistic meaning either. It’s just a useful heuristic device, one with only a highly imperfect grip on what is going on in thought. Consequently, there is no point asking for the real, the true, the actual meaning of a work of art, or the meaning of an agent’s act, still less the meaning of a historical event or epoch. The demand of the interpretive disciplines, that we account for ideas and artifacts, actions and events, in terms of their meanings, is part of the insatiable hunger for stories with plots, narratives, and whodunits that human kind have insisted on since natural selection made us into conspiracy-theorists a half a million years ago or so.”  For Rosenberg there aren’t any beliefs, thoughts, or intentionality.  There also isn’t any truth, because the human mind isn’t aimed at getting at truth.  If this does not cause a skeptical problem that rivals Augustine’s time I am not sure what would.
[28] James Anderson and Greg Welty, “The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God From Logic” Philosophi Christi 13.2 (2011) Accessed on September 16, 2013. http://www.proginosko.com/docs/The_Lord_of_Non-Contradiction.pdf.