Augustine and Aquinas: The Influence of Platonic Essay

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¶ … Augustine and Aquinas: The Influence of Platonic and Aristotelian Thought

According to St. Augustine, one of the greatest sins of his early life was his love of classical, pagan philosophy. Augustine traces his early sinfulness not simply to his crimes of fornication and stealing pears as a young boy, but also to his belief in the superiority of Latin classical rhetorical works over the Christian words of the Bible. However, he did acknowledge the pagan neo-Platonists who had influenced his thought. In fact, in his Confessions, Augustine writes that it was studying the neo-Platonists that enabled him to break away from the erroneous, heretical teachings of the erroneous, heretical teachings of the Manicheans. It was the neo-Platonists "that first made it possible for him to conceive the possibility of a non-physical substance" that still had value and an existence in the created world before him. Neo-Platonic philosophy which stressed the ideal world of the 'forms' as intuitively sensed or felt by the soul provided him an outlet from the common-sense materialism, in the tradition of pure Aristotelian materialists. For Augustine, the Platonic idea that there is a better, higher world of forms than the one in which we currently dwell, but which still resembles that world, provided him with an explanation about how the world could be created by a good God, yet still possess evil within it -- heaven was a more perfect reflection of life on earth, but still had a correspondence to it.Download full
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TOPIC: Essay on Augustine and Aquinas: The Influence of Platonic Assignment

Augustine's overall emphasis on deductive reasoning can also be traced to the Greeks, as can his belief that grace is always 'there,' it must merely be recognized. This recalls one of Plato's Socratic dialogues, where Plato demonstrates that an ignorant slave can be taught a geometric proof through deduction -- true knowledge is always residing in the human mind, waiting to be drawn out, because of humanity's rational capacity. Similarly, grace is always there to be drawn out, in Augustine's Christian understanding of salvation.

It is true that Augustine's stress upon inner sense "bears some affinities to Aristotle's common sense" for it "makes us aware that the disparate information converging upon us from our various senses comes from a common external source" and "makes us aware when one of our multiple senses in not functioning efficiently. Augustine's discussion of the senses thus reflects some belief in the value of inductive or experiential learning. But for Augustine, the senses are more apt to lead an individual astray… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Augustine and Aquinas: The Influence of Platonic."  Essaytown.com.  November 27, 2008.  Accessed January 16, 2022.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/augustine-aquinas-influence-platonic/72631.