By John M. Rist
Augustine proven an ethical framework that ruled Western tradition for greater than 1000 years. His partially improper presentation of a few of its key ideas (love, will and freedom), even if, caused next thinkers to aim to fix this framework, and their efforts frequently irritated the very difficulties they meant to resolve. through the years, dissatisfaction with a less than excellent Augustinian theology gave solution to more and more secular and at last impersonal ethical structures. This quantity strains the distortion of Augustine's suggestion from the 12th century to the current and examines its consequent reconstructions. John M. Rist argues that glossy philosophies can be well-known as providing no compelling solutions to questions about the human situation and as top necessarily to conventionalism or nihilism. so as to stay away from this finish, he proposes a go back to an up to date Augustinian Christianity. crucial studying for someone attracted to Augustine and his effect, Augustine Deformed revitalizes his unique belief of affection, will and freedom.
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Additional info for Augustine Deformed: Love, Sin and Freedom in the Western Moral Tradition
The answer would be Peri tes autexousias tes proaireseos,2 which serves to locate the philosophical context of the word voluntas, for in Stoic texts, especially in Epictetus, the word prohairesis signifies man’s moral self, man as a moral agent. 3 Since, in a Platonic tradition going back to Socrates, he thinks of the human individual as primarily a moral agent, his term voluntas is to be understood accordingly: it means not just a ‘will’, let alone a faculty of willing, but the individual as moral, loving and spiritual being, whether dispositionally or in his performances.
The Demiurge in the Timaeus, the exemplar of a perfect (and decidedly non-Cartesian) mind, behaves in the same way, for it is godlike to do so. Plato explains that his reasons for forming the world, for bringing order out of chaos, are twofold: that he is good and that he wants to. That description also fits the motivation of the Guardians in the Republic. That is the way a lover of goodness and beauty will behave because, as the 3 Fuller discussion would be out of place here, but for a more detailed introduction, see Rist (2012b).
To say that God is mind is, quite simply, to say that he thinks (in some way). That he is ‘will’ is less easy to interpret; to understand the sense of ‘God wills’, we need to know the meaning of the Latin word voluntas as used by Augustine. And to discover that in adequate detail we need to unravel its conceptually distinct Platonic and Stoic antecedents, recognizing (as we have and must) that Augustine deploys powerful Stoic ideas about action to offer an enriched account of ultimately Platonic purposes.
Augustine Deformed: Love, Sin and Freedom in the Western Moral Tradition by John M. Rist