Greek/Hellenistic Tradition Augustine View Essay

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So, finding happiness is not in having a social life, but rather finding happiness can only be sought through society if all of the citizens of that society submit to that type of rule. "The peace of body and soul is the duly ordered life and health of a living creature; peace between mortal man and God is an ordered obedience, in faith, in subjection to an everlasting law" (Augustine 870). The only way that society could help someone on the path toward Supreme Good is if everyone were on the same page, essentially, but Augustine knew that this was not the case.

Augustine also took up issues with the mind-body dilemma. In Phaedo, we are given an account of Socrates' death that shows us a man that is so far away from his body's needs, that his soul is free to leave the body without any hesitation. Socrates states in Phaedo,

if it is impossible to attain any pure knowledge with the body, then one of two things is true: either we can never attain knowledge or we can do so after death… While we live, we shall be closest to knowledge if we refrain as much as possible from association with the body and do not join with it more than we must, if we are not infected with its nature but purify ourselves from it until the god himself frees us (Plato 104).

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Likewise, in City of God, Augustine quotes from the Book of Wisdom, saying that it is the body, which is perishable, that weighs the soul down (Augustine 853). Augustine, like Plato, suggests that all human beings may struggle with the conflicts that come up between the body and the mind. Socrates states that we cannot know knowledge, which perhaps for Augustine would be translated into God, if we are too focused on the body. Augustine, similarly, discusses the conflicts between the earthly city and the heavenly city. The earthly city represents all the evils that tempt people, things that offer them corporeal pleasure, and the heavenly city represents God's city where the soul can live eternally, but in order for the soul to live there eternally, it has to submit itself to God while it is kept in its earthly form.

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Augustine depicts two very distinct worlds -- the earthly city, as represented by Babylon -- "people should possess peace in this life, since so long as the two cities are intermingled we also make use of the peace of Babylon, although the People of God is by faith set free from Babylon" (Augustine 892) -- and the City of God, as represented by the godly Jerusalem -- "for 'Jerusalem' as I have said already, means 'vision of peace'" (865). Through the course of our history, both cities develop and change when humans act. motivated by self-interested or sacrificial love. Augustine's question remains, however: How can humans can implement justice in their own lives and live according to wisdom, which can bring us to eternal peace? While Augustine departed from many of the theories of Aristotle and Plato, they were all on a similar path, which was to discover how a person can attain knowledge and goodness while here on earth, which then would allow their souls to free themselves from the body and go on to a higher goodness.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Ed. Roger Crisp. (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy). Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Plato & Grube, G.M.A. Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo.

Hackett Publishing Co., 2nd edition, 2002.

St. Augustine. City of God. Translated by Henry Bettenson; with an introduction by G.R.



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