I would rather be a Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied – John Stuart Mill

St Augustine: a lecture by Steve Chavura

Augustine’s insatiable passion was for Truth. He was a man of principle, always restless with the urgent need for a personal rule of life. To him, the quest for truth was “one relating to life itself and, in some way, to the hope of a happy soul”.

But as soon as Augustine found what goodness was, he found that he was unfortunately always wrestling with it. He was a very earthy guy. (“God, make me chaste, but not yet!”)

For a time, Augustine subscribed to Manichaeism. Founded by the Iranian prophet Mani, at the heart of this religion is the attempt to explain why evil exists. He did not find it intellectually satisfying.

He devastatingly destroyed the sceptics. 

I must exist, and every time I doubt it I prove my existence. And don’t we have to have to ‘know’ what truth is before we say that we cannot know it?

Augustine did not reject knowledge nor did he reduce it to the indubitable. When your priority is to create a coherent system of thought, you might miss the truth. Augustine was happy to change his mind, and he changed his mind on various things throughout his life.

Augustine would rather face the complexity of knowledge than dismiss it.

A summary of his political and social philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/aug-poso/

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