ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

98. St. Augustine. His Life and Works. -- St. Augustine is not only one of the most famous of the Fathers of the Church, he is also the greatest philosopher of the Patristic period. He was born at Tagaste in Numidia in 354, of a Christian mother, Monica, who contributed very much to the formation of his character. While yet young he abandoned the teaching of rhetoric, which he had practised in different towns of Asia Minor and Italy, to devote himself to theological studies. He adhered for a time to Manichaeism, and also for some time favoured the scepticism of the New Academy. He was converted to Catholicism by St. Ambrose of Milan, who baptised him in 387. Later on he became Bishop of Hippo (395). Up to his death in 430 he wrote and worked to propagate Catholicism and to refute contemporary heresies, particularly Pelagianism and the Manichaeism whose errors he had himself previously professed.

His principal philosophical works are: (1) Confessionum Libri XIII., an autobiography written about 400, in which he gives a history of his intellectual and moral development down to his mother's death in 387; (2) Retractationum Libri Duo, written about 427, containing a critical résumé of the works he had written since his conversion; (3) Contra Academicos, directed against those Neo-Sceptics whose doubts he had for a short time shared; (4) Soliloquiorum Libri II.; (5) Liber de Immortalitate Animae; (6) De Quantitate Animae; (7) De Magistro; (8) De Libero Arbitrio; (9) De Anima et Ejus Origine; (10) and (11) the celebrated works De Civitate Dei and De Trinitate, whose scope is primarily dogmatic and apologetic, but which are also rich in philosophical teaching.

Works which may be consulted on St. Augustine: WILLMANN, Geschichte d. Idealismus, Brunswick, 2nd edit., 1908, vol. ii., §§ 61-66 (general views); J. MARTIN, S. Augustin, Paris, 1901, in the collection "Les Grands Philosophes" (a much discussed monograph on St. Augustine's philosophical and theological teaching); PORTALIÉ, Saint Augustin, article in Vacant's Dictionn. de Théol. Cathol. vol. i., col. 2268-2472 (an excellent general study from the theological and philosophical points of view). On a special question: GRANDGEORGE, Saint Augustin et le Néo-platonisme, Paris, 1896 (well treated).

<< ======= >>