Monday, August 15, 2005

Book VII, Chapter I

Book VII is a long, complex exploration of the understanding of God.

Augustine’s emotional turmoil seems to have lessened somewhat, but of course, his intellectual search continues as aggressively as ever. By default, or not having anything better to replace it, he adheres to the Catholic understanding of God. Apart from believing that God does not have a human form, Augustine does not know how to think of God. He does believe that what cannot be corrupted is superior to what can be corrupted, and what doesn’t change is superior to what can be changed. Augustine still thinks of God as a physical substance that permeates the universe.

Note that although not yet a Christian, Augustine has begun a process of purgation. The chapter begins, “Now, my evil, abominable youth was a thing of the past." Some of this is simply attributable to maturity: "I was growing into manhood , and the older I was the more discernable was the emptiness of my mind. I was unable to form an idea of any kind of substance other than what my eyes are accustomed to see." " A little later he says, "My heart cried out passionately against all the phantoms I had believed in, and with this one blow I tried to beat away from the eye of my mind all those swarms of uncleanness which were buzzing around it." This is only an after thought, an he does not go into detail. By uncleanness, he may be refering to pagan concepts of God, but I am not sure.

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