Augustine, Confessions Bk. 1-2, 7-8
“You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you” (1.i.1, emphasize mine). And “the single desire that dominated my search for delight was simply to love and to be love” (2.ii.2). Both statements serve as Augustine’s thesis statement for books 1-2. Keep note of them, because he will characterize his entire journey as a restless heart seeking rest by redirected his misdirected affections to the love of God. When you read book 1 and 2, try to answer the following questions:
1. Does Augustine make a distinction between “love” and “lust”? What are the objects of “love” and “lust”?
2. In books 1-2 Augustine will highlight certain scenes from his life (infant, boyhood, and teenager). Each scene juxtaposes God’s mercy and providential care with some facet of Augustine’s own lust. Therefore, in each scene try to locate God’s mercy and Augustine’s lustful response to it.
3. “[a] So the soul fornicates when it is turned away from you and seeks outside you the pure and clear intentions which are not to be found except by returning to you. [b] In their perverted way all humanity imitates you” (2.vi.14). There are two remarkable statements here [a & b]. What do they mean? How does the ‘pear-incident’ (2.iv.9) fit into all of this?
In books 1-2 Augustine established the nature of his restless condition, in books 7-8 he give account of his conversion into the Christian Church (where he finds the rest that he seeking). Book 7 accounts for his intellectual conversion, and book 8 accounts for the conversion of his will.
1. In book 7 Augustine traces his journey through four religious/philosophical systems (or think of them in terms of four different books). What are they? What information about Christ do they offer Augustine (particularly the last two books)?
2. Book 7 is also famous for Augustine’s discussion on the problem of evil. He does offer a solution to this problem. What is it (this question is optional)?
3. In book 8 Augustine goes into a discussion of the two wills (8.v.10, and elsewhere). What does all this mean?
4. What was holding Augustine back from his conversion into the Christian Church? In answering this question, read and make sense of 8.v.10 and 8.viii.20-8.xii.29. This is extremely important.