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

103. Moral Phllosophy. -- Every being is good in so far as it is, or has being (Plato). God, or the Supreme Goodness, is the ultimate end of man, and the union of the soul with God is its supreme happiness (Eudemonism). The justice of God, and the necessary relations of essences are the basis of the absolute distinction between good and evil. The polemics in which St. Augustine was successively engaged with the Manichaeans, the Pelagians and the Semi-Pelagians, led him to the study of the problems of evil, liberty, grace and predestination. Evil does not share the metaphysical Empyrean with Good (Manichaeism). It is nothing positive; if it were, the scorpion would die of its own poison. It is a privation of good, and, in consequence, affects only contingent things which are endowed with a certain degree of goodness. As to the conciliation of human liberty with grace and predestination, the passages of St. Augustine's writings bearing on these points have given rise to centuried controversies, principally theological; and the most widely diverging systems quote the Doctor of Hippo each in its own favour.{1}

St. Augustine has exercised an immense influence on the destinies of theology (speculative and mystical), and of scholastic philosophy.{2}

{1} On the Ethics of St. Augustine, see the recent work by J. MAUSBACH, Die Ethik des hl. Augustinus, 2 vols., Freiburg, Herder, 1909.

{2} Amongst other writers of the fourth century less directly connected with polemics, we may mention ST. JEROME (fl. 420), author of the Vulgate (translation of the Bible), of the Liber de Viris Illustribus and of a translation of the Chronicles of Eusebius. His letters were in high favour with the clerics of the Middle Ages, and his history remained for many centuries the model for the annalist and chronicler. RUFINUS (about 346-410), who was at first the friend of St. Jerome but later on severed this friendship owing to a dispute over Origen, translated a great many Greek works into Latin, notably the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, some homilies, and the Peri archôn of Origen. He wrote also some original treatises in Latin.

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