Philosophy of the Person I
Study Questions (second examination)
Philosophy of the Person I
Pierre Hadot. Chapter 11. Philosophy as a Way of Life.
1. Explain what “ataraxia” (peace of mind), “autarkeia” (inner
freedom) and cosmic consciousness are.
Ataraxia (peace of mind) is a moment of relaxation in your life that
allows you to look at your life in the way it is detached from the
world, contemplate the world, see it as it is. It is to find peace and pay
Autarkeia is the “inner freedom.” It is a cosmic consciousness
when capable of detaching oneself from the world, you become free, who
you are, independent. Free of all attachment. Cosmic consciousness
means you are not alone in this world and you are a part of the world.
You are a little piece in a multitude of things- tiny but very important and
you should contemplate your surroundings. One should contemplate
the stars- contemplate movement of the whole thing and become human,
a part of the universe.
2. Explain the difference between “discourse about philosophy”
and “philosophy itself.”
Discourse about philosophy i
3. Why are “attention” and “to live in the present” so important
for Stoics, Epicureans and philosophy in general?
4. In what moment in history and in what institution was
philosophy transformed from being a Way of Life into a
theoretical and abstract activity?
5. Can modern philosophy be considered as a Way of Life,
according to Pierre Hadot? Explain.
6. What are the differences between “scientific knowledge” and
7. Explain the connection between Ancient Philosophy and
community (group, politics, injustice, city, government). AUGUSTINE
The City of God, Book XIX
1. From the perspective of the “City of God” what is the highest
or “Supreme Good” and “Evil”? Compare this to the positions of
Plato and Aristotle.
The “supreme,” good is that good which is sought for its own sake,
and on account of which all other goods are sought. This supreme good is also
what makes a man happy- it is “peace in eternal life”. The supreme evil is
the exact opposite of this, being an evil that is avoided on its own account,
and on the account of all other evils being avoided. It equals eternal death.
Augustine also believed that both the highest good and evil were not means to
an end, but rather the highest good is which goodness reaches its fullest
consummation, and the highest evil is the one which evil reaches it’s highest
harm. Both the highest good and evil are both independent things; they both
have different ends within themselves.
These views are different from Plato’s and Aristotle’s. It’s different
from Plato’s belief in that it is not an all-encompassing idea; there are
different parts to both the good and the evil (Augustine lists pleasure,
serenity, the combination of both, and the primary exigencies of nature all
as different ideas of the good) and this goes against Plato’s belief of the idea
that the good is what all things tend towards. It is also a different idea than
Aristotle’s because Augustine does not believe the goods and evils are a
means to an end like Aristotle does, but rather they are the fullest forms of
both the good and the evil.
2. What is Augustine’s understanding of virtue? Is his view
similar to the Greek conception? Why or why not?
Augustine describes virtue as the art of living derived from
education. Virtue is how to live a good life based on what one has learned
from life experiences. Augustine believes that life is not the same thing as
virtue since only a virtuous life, not any other kind of life, is virtuous. There can
be life without virtue, but there can be no virtue without life. Augustine also
connects virtue to the good and happiness because he says that without
virtue, no other goods are really any good to a man, which means that the
emphasis is placed on virtue before the good. The human life is happiest
when one enjoys both virtue and the other goods of the soul and body. Also,
there is no soul or body that virtue prefers, as virtue can make any man
happy. Augustine defines three types of virtue: prudence (the virtue constantly
on the lookout to distinguish what is good fro what is evil), justice (the task to
see that what is given to each, belongs to him), and fortitude (to bear patient
with misfortune). They are similar to the Greek conceptions of virtue that we
have learned so far because in both cases, virtue is seen as a means to
achieve the good in life. 3. Aristotle says that man is by nature a political animal, that he
is social by nature. What is Augustine’s attitude to human
sociability, to friendship?
Augustine sees human being’s social nature as somewhat of a
paradox. When looking at the beginning of humanity, he points out that
human beings obviously had to have a social nature to them in order to
make progress and reach an appointed goal. However, Augustine also sees
that social living has enormous drawbacks. He mainly points to the fact that
human beings are inconsistent in their feelings, and this ends badly for
friendships and marriages. Augustine talks about domestic disloyalties and
friends who become traitors when giving examples about the setbacks of
social living. He says how the bigger a city is, the more social interaction
there is and the more frequently there are wars and crimes.
4. What is the end of the “City of God”? Is it achievable on earth?
Why or why not?
Augustine says that a man’s happiness can easily be derailed by
“the ups and downs of fortune,” physical harm, sickness, and aging, among
other things. He notes that nobody, not even the philosopher, is invulnerable to
these sorts of misfortunes. Therefore, he concludes, the ultimate end cannot be
something found in mortal life.
In other words, we seek Heaven. He says that in Heaven, “all of our
natural endowments – all that the Creator of our natures has given to our
nature – will be both good and everlasting, where every wound in the soul
is to be healed by wisdom and every weakness of the body to be
removed by resurrection; where our virtues will be no longer at war with passion
or opposition of any kind, but are to have, as the prize of victory, an eternally
imperturbable peace. This is what is meant by that consummate
beatitude, that limitless perfection, that end that never ends.” Augustine
labels this divine end as “peace in eternal life.” He explains that this type
of peace is of the greatest magnitude imaginable; it is a “peace so good that no
peace could be better, a peace so great that a greater would be
However, he explains that his definition of “peace” is something far
beyond our earthly understanding. A good life on earth brings us a degree
of happiness, which we interpret as peace. But compared to the eternal
life of peace that is our end, the peace that we claim to experience on earth is
actually much closer to misery. We simply cannot grasp this eternal peace
during out life on earth. We can only access it after life, after becoming
“servants of God.”- Saints, monks, etc. are happy.
5. What is the relationship between the earthly city and the
heavenly city with respect to justice, peace, and the end of man?
Augustine says, “In the earthly city, temporal goods are to be used
with a view to the enjoyment of earthly peace, whereas, in the heavenly City, they are used with a view to the enjoyment of eternal peace.” There are a
variety of different temporal goods, all of which have been provided to us
by God and are suited to our existence on earth. For example, humans are
given health, security, daylight, speech, water to drink, air to breathe, and
thousands of other good gifts from God. Augustine says that on earth, man
uses these goods and strives to achieve peace of the rational soul. Our innate
human rationality allows us to think before we act, and therefore achieve
harmony of “conduct and conviction.”
Yet, all of these earthly endeavors are subordinate to our human
duty to God. There is a higher peace that “unites the mortal man with the
immortal God,” which Augustine describes as “ordered obedience guided by
faith, under God’s eternal law.” God’s law commands a love of God and a love
of one’s neighbor. To obey this command, man must seek to help those
around him whenever he can and wish for them to help him when he needs it,
as well. He also specifies that man must not have a domineering relationship
with his friends and family. According to Augustine, in the home of a religious
man “those who command serve those whom they appear to rule – because,
of course, they do not command out of lust to domineer, but out of a sense of
duty.” This is how a religious man shows love for his neighbor; it is the man’s
duty to serve anyone close to him, because he is obligated to love him or
her as himself.
6. What is “slavery”? How does this relate to Paul’s conception in
7. What is the definition of a “commonwealth”? Does Augustine think it
ever existed on earth? What is said of Cicero’s discussion in On the
8. What is Augustine’s alternative definition of “Commonwealth” and
“people”? How does this alternative differ from the Roman view cited
9. What is the difference Augustine draws between the Greek and
Christian view of virtues?
1. How does Augustine suggest we seek God? Must we know
him, blindly try to find him without knowing what we are looking
for, or do we find him in some other way? The imperfect answer that Augustine ultimately concludes with is
simply to have faith – if we seek God, he will reveal himself to us. We call
upon God with our faith, which was given to us through his son Jesus. We
do not need to know who God is in order to find him – we simply need to
open ourselves up and be willing to seek him.
2. Can God be contained? If so, where is God contained? Is he
contained by being split up or left as a whole? Does Augustine
fully answer this question?
“for when I call on him I ask him to come into me…is it possible
that, since without thee nothing would be which does exist, thou didst
make it so that whatever exists has some capacity to receive thee? Why,
then, do I ask thee to come into me, since I also am and could not be if
thou wert not in me?” Augustine is saying that since without God, nothing
would exist, God seems both to transcend everything and to be within
everything. Thus, it does not make sense to Augustine to ask God to
“come into” him. God cannot be contained by what he created, so he can't
"come to" Augustine in any literal sense. At the same time, God is the
necessary condition for the existence of anything, so he’s “within”
3. What comes before birth, and how do we find out about it?
He does not know how the soul joins the body to become an infant.
Augustine writes, “I know not whence I came hither into this life-in-death.
Or should I call it death-in-life? I do not know.” What he does know, is that
the comfort of God’s mercy sustains us from the very beginning. Although
Augustine’s mother gave him milk to drink and sustain life, it was God who
filled his mother’s breasts and gave her the will to nourish Augustine.
Nothing comes from his mother, rather by is mother, as all good things
come from God. Augustine only knows that at birth he had both being and
life. He also points out here that God is the most extreme representation
of both being and life, and that God is responsible for uniting these two
qualities in new humans.
4. Does God have the same sense of time as us? How does His
day compare with our day?
Augustine wonders whether God has the same sense of time as
people on earth. He comes to the conclusion that they are different,
because God is infinite, and for him, “there is no change, nor an end to
this present day.” On earth, we have days that are in the past, days that
are in the present, and days that are in the future. But for God, there are
no days, because all time is gathered into one everlasting, unending day. 5. Can a child be innocent? Even if the acts of children are
committed in ignorance are they sins? How does this relate to
Aristotle’s theory of virtue?
He says that Infancy is a fairly miserable state. Augustine says that
all desires are internal, as he “realized where I was and wished to tell my
wishes to those who might satisfy them, but I could not! For my wants
were inside me, and they were outside, and they could not by any power
of theirs come into my soul.” Augustine is saying that Infants do not have
the tools to express their wants and also no physical power to fulfill them.
As an infant, Augustine made demands on everyone, thanked no one, and
revenged himself on his caretakers by crying and screaming. This is sinful
to Augustine, as he writes, “Who brings to remembrance the sins of my
infancy? For in thy sight there is none free from sin, not even the infant
who has lived but a day upon this earth.” Although he considers all infants
to be sinful, however, “the infant's innocence lies in the weakness of his
body and not in the infant mind.” Although his childhood was indeed
sinful, he passes over that period because he can’t do anything with a time in
which he can recall no memories. This relates to Aristotle’s theory of virtue
because Aristotle believes that virtue in not innate; we develop it. One’s
virtue is defined through their actions that in turn develop their habits.
6. Why is learning in school often corrupted? Are we learning for
the “right” or moral reasons?
He is disturbed by the way language was used and taught as
school, as he was taught to speak and write only to gain future honor and
wealth. Augustine writes, “For will any common sense observer agree that
I was rightly punished as a boy for playing ball -- just because this
hindered me from learning more quickly those lessons by means of which,
as a man, I could play at more shameful games?” Augustine believes he
was punished wrongly, and by hypocrites. He also believes that the
scholastic system is a folly.
7. How does learning change as we grow from infancy to youth?
For instance, in infancy, a child learns to address his/her wants and
needs by acting a certain way. After much practice, a child knows that if
they indicate a certain gesture with their body, they are translating that
they need a specific thing. An infant learns to communicate in this way
and uses this to dictate their desires. In contrast to infancy, youth is an
age at which children are a bit older and more mature. In youth, children
communicate through actual speech. At this stage in a child’s life, a child
is capable of voicing their wants and needs. This method, as opposed to
that used in infancy, is much more effective and more specific. 8. How are boys and men similar? How does idling remain the
same from boyhood to manhood?
Neither boys nor men are pitied for their actions. Men are seen as
hypocrites because they chastise boys for playing and not focusing on
their work while they are not being productive with their time either. Boys
see this and it is hard for them to consider men as their role models
because they are being yelled at for something that the men are doing at
the same time.
9. How does Augustine’s obsession with play relate to Aristotle’s
view of vice? Could play be considered the art of pleasure and
Augustine’s obsession with play is much like Aristotle’s idea of vice.
Augustine states that play distracts boys from learning and being
productive. Aristotle’s idea of vice identifies the opposite of being virtuous,
or the excellence of one’s character. Both “playing” and vices distract
people from learning and developing ones excellence of character. Play
could be considered the art of pleasure and pain. While boys enjoy
playing and have a pleasurable experience, they are chastised and pain is
incurred from skipping out of their work.
10. According to Augustine, how does fiction corrupt us? What
does it prevent us from seeing? What does too much focus on
grammar prevent us from seeing?
He states that fiction corrupts us and prevents us from being
productive. He said that “poetical fictions” are the most inconvenient part
of people’s lives. It distracts people from being productive and gives them
false hope. It displays a false image of reality and gives people false
11. How are the beginning and ending of the first book
They are significant because they identify Augustine’s relationship
with God. Augustine highly regards God and his grace. He clearly states
that he is very thankful for all of Gods gifts that have been bestowed upon
him and that he is inspired by God’s grace.
1. How did God react to Augustine’s lust?
The white light of love is lost to the fog of lust. God gave Augustine
all the properties to be good if you are steered wrong it is on your own account. God remained silent as Augustine committed sodomy. The
metaphorical scourges by God started to happen in Augustine’s life, for example
he became distracted in school.
2. What faults does Augustine see in his father? What does he
accuse him of?
He has no morality. His father works diligently to make sure
Augustine is put through school but not for the right reasons. His fathers’
reasoning was for worldly success.
3. How did Augustine’s mother differ from his father? What does she
advise him to do, and why didn’t he listen? Should he have
While Augustine’s mother is the exact opposite, she wants the best
for him. She advises him to stop this fornication; it was as if God was
speaking through her. He did not listen because of the patriarchal that
hinders the power of a women’s word.
4. What individually are his parents’ desires for Augustine’s
education? Why do each of them want him to be educated?
Augustine’s education was somewhat of a blessing. His father,
though was certainly not wealthy, worked incredibly hard to send Augustine to a
good school. And as a result, he had high hopes for his son. He wanted his son
to succeed academically so that his son could lead a wealthier and in his mind,
happier life that he, himself, could never really provide. He wanted a better life
for his son, and in his mind that came with wealth, power and honor, all of
which stemmed from a good education. Contrastingly, his mother hoped that
Augustine would do well in school because, she believed it would steer
him closer towards God. As a mother, she could see her son’s infatuation
with pleasure and how it took him to do immoral actions. And so, she hoped
that with a strong education, her son would somehow become more spiritual
and righteous by finding God.
5. What did Augustine steal? Who was with him? Why did they
Along with some blackguards he stole many loads of pears from a
tree near his family’s vineyard, and fed them to the hogs. He did this not
because he felt that the hogs needed better nourishment but simply because
the act was forbidden. He revelled in doing what was forbidden, ruled illegal by
law or others. But upon deeper reflection he realized that this reasoning for
committing such a heinous act had more to do with its unlawful nature.
Augustine went against God not just for the pure desire to sin, but the thrill it
gave him to sin. He saw what was right as a moral code handed down by
God. But this moral code curbed, if not eliminated his liberty. There was no room for him to be himself, and act as he pleased. Thus, like a prisoner, he
revelled the chance to demonstrate freewill, for in that brief moment it
made him feel less of a prisoner. He was rebelling, not succumbing to the
higher power and thus, preserving his own originality.
But Augustine quite rightly points out, that there are sins, like his
thievery, that one may find he would not do by himself, but rather with
others. In committing certain sins with others, there is this sense of
comradeship that if not there would not lead you to do bad things. Thus, one
should be mindful of the friendships they make. Who you surround yourself
with, is an emulation of what you have or will become. Additionally, in the
company of others, there is less individual blame and more collective blame.
Because of that the individual can in a sense hide amongst many and thus
be more compelled to sin.
6. What are the various goods? What are the higher goods and what
are the lower goods? How does this relate to Plato’s theory of the
forms and his idea of the “Good”? With Plato and Augustine
which good should we strive for?
According to Augustine, there are two types of goods in this world:
the Lower goods and Higher goods. But in everyway the lower goods are
subservient to the higher goods. The beauties of life on Earth are the lower
goods. They are the pleasures that we seek, and the comfort that we desire.
But on the other hand God, his laws and truths are the higher goods. Thus,
because everything in this world, both tangible and theoretical was born from the
hands of God, the lower goods are forever linked to God. Hence their inferior
nature. But Augustine is quick to point out that although the higher goods are
more coveted than the lower goods, it is easier to forget about the higher
goods than the lower goods. This is simply because the lower goods have a
direct link to our lives. We can see, feel, smell, taste and hear the lower goods,
while this is not so for the higher goods. God isn’t physically in our lives. We
can’t see him, but his omnipotence lives through his creations, the lower goods,
thus it is easy to forget him.
7. How is sinning attempting to be like God? Which sins aim to be
an attribute of God?
Because we can forget about the higher goods, it makes it easier
for people to sin. All that we do on this Earth, Augustine points out, is for an
end, to better ourselves. But what we fail to realize is that in our goal to
better ourselves we are striving to be like God. Pride, as Augustine highlights,
is to place oneself in high regard, when in fact, God alone is above everyone
else. People are cruel so that they may be feared, but yet God is the only
one that should be feared. His power is so mighty that he should be feared,
not anyone else. At the same time, those who crave lust are seeking
pleasures that can and should only be supplied by God. God is the highest
and greatest pleasure. In addition, to be in the midst of luxury, is to seek abundance and completeness, but those are things that can only be
supplied by God. With anger, you claim injustice and crave to right a
wrong, but isn’t that the job of God? Basically, the soul, in its basic actions and
emotions, craves or desires to be like God, and that emulation is sinful, wrong
and immoral. We are far lesser than God, and will never come close to
being like him, thus, we must praise his greatness and thank him for his
8. Why should man not praise himself for attributes such as
innocence and chastity?
But for those who don’t strive to emulate God, and don’t sin,
essentially those who seek innocence and chastity must not praise themselves
for their righteousness. To praise yourself is to place yourself above those
who have sinned and now have been saved (ruling them not as righteous as
you). That in its own right is sinful. Just because you have not done any
wrong doesn’t make you in anyway above anyone else. In fact, according to
Augustine those wh