Class Notes (1,100,000)
CA (650,000)
UTSG (50,000)
PHL (1,000)

PHL205H1 Lecture Notes - Ostensive Definition, Blood Brother, Human Nature

Course Code
Dominic Martin

This preview shows half of the first page. to view the full 2 pages of the document.
Phl205 lecture 3
Augustine on some philosophically puzzling aspects of early childhood
- 2 important things
o Cradle argument
o Language learning
- There are two ways to read the text
o Literal (the meaning is accordingly to what it says)
o Spiritual(there’s more meaning than what it just say)
Cicero, De finibus 5.55 (transl. Rackham)
This is a fact that may be readily detected in children of the tenderest age, if I may risk being thought to lay undue stress on a field
of observation sanctioned by the older thinkers, all of whom, and my own school more than others, go to the nursery, because they
believe that Nature reveals her plan to them most clearly in childhood. Even infants, we notice, are incapable of keeping still.
Children of somewhat more advanced age delight in games involving considerable exertion … And this passion for activity
grows as they grow older.’
- Common
- Makes certain claims about human nature
o One way is to look at humans who have not been influenced by education, culture, society etc.
o Its natural for humans to seek pleasure in movement(epicureans and stoics)
o Children enjoy delights in pleasure of movement
Arguments in human nature derived from child behavior
Confessions 1.7.11
What sin did I then have? Was it wrong that in tears I greedily opened my mouth wide to suck the breasts? If I were to do that now,
gasping to eat food appropriate to my present age, I would be laughed at and very properly rebuked. At the time of my infancy
I must have acted reprehensively; but since I could not understand the person who admonished me, neither custom nor reason
allowed me to be reprehended. As we grow up, we eliminate and set aside such ways. But I have never seen anyone
Knowingly setting aside what is good when purging something of faults.’
- It is part of human nature to sin(an oblique conclusion)
- Augustine thinks human nature are sinful
o First step is that even babies, when sucking at breast can commit sin
o He admits that even children can sin
Babies wouldn't understand, but doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do bad
o We set aside our infant behavior
o Human nature is sinful, even an infant would commit a sin
Augustine’s ‘Cradle Argument’
Even small children commit sins! (Human nature is not innocent.) Proof: Behavior of infants
Objection: This is ridiculous! The behavior of infants is not sinful! Look, we do not rebuke or reprehend infants for their behavior.
Response: That we do not rebuke or reprehend infants does not mean that we do not consider their behavior as bad (in a strict
sense). We don’t do so, because infants have cognitive limitations that make rebuke and reprimanding pointless. An indication that
we in fact consider certain behavior of infants as bad is that we are setting it aside later in life.
- Infants cant sin because they don't have free will (it’s pointless because they cant understand)
o Augustine’s response would be that we are setting aside what is bad in life, but it’s still bad
Child having improper emotions (i.e. jealousy)
Confessions 1.7.11
‘I have personally watched and studied a jealous baby. He could not yet speak and, pale with jealousy and bitterness, glared at his brother
sharing his mother’s milk. … But it can hardly be innocence, when the source of milk is flowing richly and abundantly, not to endure a share
going to one’s blood brother, who is in profound need, dependent for life exclusively on that one food. But people smilingly tolerate this
behavior, not because it is only a trivial matter, but because with coming of age it will pass away. You can prove this to be the case from the
fact that the same behavior cannot be borne without toleration when encountered in someone of more mature years.’
- People will tolerate behavior because it’s not evil, but with coming of age it will pass away and those
infants wouldn’t understand anyways.
- Augustine has a pessimistic view of human nature
You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version