AUGUSTINE on free choice and the will
his mother is MONICA who becomes ST. MONICA. she deeply wanted her son to be a
catholic christian. it is joked that she should be the patron st. of nagging mothers.
she didn't want her child baptized too soon because they should be allowed to sin a
bit before they are washed clean of all sins.
smart, cause he was extrordinarily lustful.
his lustful side was matched only by his brilliance.
the parents recognized his brilliance early on and they were poor but spent everything
they could to send him to a great boarding school in algeria (he is North African). he
wasn't baptized but he was deeply imbued with christianity from his mother's lap. that
impacts him throughout his flirtations with manicheanism and skepticism.
this text augustine referred to as a deeply manicheanism text.
why was he attracted to manichaenism?
he is very attractive, very lustful, and doesn't like this about himself.
secondly, christ is extrordinarily important for him.
manichaenism offers an account of evil on the one hand and it uses christ to do it.
this serves the two sides of augustine he was interested in.
at one point he calls the catholic form of christianity a form of superstition.
manichaeanism is called syncretic. mani, a persian, took bits from zoroastrianism,
buddhism, judaism, christianity.
within twenty years after he is killed by the persian authorities, the church spreads
from china to the northern and african mediterranean. it is competing with
christianity to supplant paganism in rome.
what does it offer? manichaeanism purports to be rational. catholicism is
superstitious cause it looks to things that cant be proved. manichaeanism had an
explanation for evil.
epicurus first posed the problem of an all benevolent and all powerful god but there
is still evil. how can there be evil?
manichean solution: there is something called the good which is a constituent
principle of the universe. evil too is a constituent principle of the universe. GOD IS
NOT OMNIPOTENT, he is the good. the universe is a dramatic playing-out of the war
between good and evil. the human is a microcosm of that battle. this conflict internal
to us is our access to truth through light, our intelligence, our souls, on the other
hand our materiality, our embodiment. this posits a special place for people like
jesus but also krishna and buddha who bring light to the world.
augustine didnt think christianity could respond to the principle of evil.
also, in this manichean construal god is material and augustine likes that, there is
nothing that is not material.
so manichaenism is rational in that it doesnt need a special revalation from god to
explain evil but it is irrational insofar as it is a GNOSTICISM
GNOSIS - knowledge
special knowledge, passed on to the select few. this is different than christianity
(which is universalist in its access to truth).
he gets interested in astronomy. he meets up with this manichaen bishop, FAUSTUS. he has problems, they say wait till faustus comes. he will explain these problems away.
but faustus comes and can't respond to these problems.
THIS IS WHY HE REJECTS MANICHAENISM. also manichaenism makes some astronomical
projections which don't come true.
HE THEN BECOMES AN ACADEMIC SKEPTIC.
the great academic skeptic is CARNEADES: "there is no truth, not even this sentence"
at this point he gets