Introduction to Philosophy
Dr. David Brown
September 23, 2014
Research Paper of Augustine
I. Life and general impact of the philosopher Augustine of Hippo was one of the greatest theologians of the early church and an esteemed philosopher. He was born in the mid-4th century to a poor family in Africa where he would spend almost all of his life. According to Augustine himself, he was born poor, but because of his pursuit of knowledge and education, he moved up on the social ladder to nobility (Brown, 9). In his pursuit of knowledge, Augustine would study literature, philosophy, Greek, Latin, psychology, and rhetoric. Augustine proved to be very successful in his early years as a teacher in rhetoric. He started teaching in Carthage, but upon needing more challenging students, he moved to Rome. After disappointment in Rome he would move to Milan where he was given a position of high honor as a professor in rhetoric (European Graduate School). Even though he was very successful in teaching, one event would drastically change Augustine’s life forever.
Before his conversion, he was deeply rooted in Manicheanism and dualism (Samples n. pag.). He struggled heavily with coming to Christianity because of reasons such as the existence of an immaterial God, the allowance of evil by God, and the belief of a monotheistic creator. Although he did not agree with the doctrines of Christianity, he started to see flaws in his own beliefs of Manicheanism. He failed to find answers about his questions of epistemology and metaphysics from even the most astute Manichean teachers. Because of the flaws in the philosophy of Manicheanism, he deemed his devotion to Manicheanism worthless. Interestingly, his realization that Christianity was possible came through his studies of Platonic thought. He realized that evil was not something that God had to create. Through this realization, his objections with Christianity soon fell away. Also, he realized how depraved he was, and how impossible living an acceptable lifestyle was. Upon the realization of his moral state, the crumbling of his belief system, and the spiritual influence in his life, Augustine became a believer in Christ. While teaching in Milan, he began reading the writings of Saint Anthony. He knew of Saint Anthony reading the Gospel and this Gospel changing his life. After being so encompassed with sin and moral failure, he read Romans where Paul says the only thing someone needs is Jesus, not a moral lifestyle. He also read in the Gospel how one must sell all that he has and give up his life to serve and follow Jesus. His finding of this section of the Gospel substantiated fundamental in his life because of what Augustine would give up for the sake of Jesus. Augustine gave up his earthly successful life for a spiritually fulfilling life. He resigned from being a highly respected professor at the imperial court of Milan and relinquished the ability to have a prestigious life for the pursuit of Christ. After this life altering event, Augustine would sell his inheritance in order to be in ministry. After coming to Christ, Augustine moved back to his hometown to study and pray. He was soon given the title “Bishop of Hippo”. It was at this phase of his life that he became known for his amazing theology, philosophy, apologetics, and writings (Samples n. pag.).
II. Statement of a philosophical question/problem he addressed Early in life, Augustine struggled with the idea of a perfect God creating a world with evil in it. This struggle kept him from coming to Christ for many years of his life. He had many questions about how awful tragedies such the existence of sickness, physical deformities, or demonic possession could exist in our world. He starts the second part of City of God with a long list of cumbersome questions about the existence of evil.
He also could not understand how society was meant to run. Society according to Augustine struggled with