Saturday, May 9, 2009

19 Saint Augustine of Hippo

To be honest...if it were for me he wouldnt have been on our 100 list but if it were for history he has to be. Augustine, born in North Africa..and died there too in 430 AD

You might wonder why I wouldnt put him on my list....well that is the difference between systematic philosophy (as we call it) and the history of philosophy.

I am interested in epistemology, not so much in history in general and in that respect Augustine dindt contribute much to what I am interested in, but historically he was an important person.

Andt we can not ignore him....hisorically his writings had a profound influence on history. Even into the Reformation...

There is tons on info in the Internet on Augustine, but what interests me is his epistemological point of view.

He was influenced by Plato, the Stoa and some others, but in the end he is one of the first neoplatonists.

What is it all about? The thing is this, how do you know some object is beautiful? A platonist would say...because what was embedded in your soul...the idea of recognize this property in that object. That i swhy you know it is beautiful.

Between empirist would didnt know, but because you heard so many people say...Oh how thinkit is beautiful.

This will be our ongoing debate, but let's stick to Augustine. In fact he was a theologian who had some philosophical ideas. And because this is a philosophy class we arent interested that much in theology.

There is an intersting debate possible: knowledge and belief...when is something certain knowledge and when is it only a belief. We wont dig into it now, but keep it in mind.

I am not so interested in all those religious ideas of Augustine, but there is one interesting thing to look in to from an epistemological point of view.

For many years Augustine was a follower of Manichaeism. Whatever it is...what is interesting is, that this religion (it is about 400 now and Manichaeism started about 250 AD and was widespread) held the view that Good and Evil were two entitiies.

God, being creator of everything had created Evil too and in man it was the constant batle between good and evil. And God wasnt the omnipotent and almighty one who could settle the score.....according the the Manichaean view.

Again a great subject for discussion....good and evil....but keep it in mind for some other rmoment. For those who believe..God as creator of all...did he create evil as wel???

How did Augustine solve this problem....He called on Plotinus. Plotinus had his The One -- The Intelligence-- the Soul...but he divided the soul in to an upper and a lower part.

For him Evil was not the workings of some independent entity, but the result of the forgetfullness of the lower part of the soul. Evil was just the absence of the good and because the lower part of the soul was so indulged in material things it had lost contact with the upper part, which had clear sight on what was good.

In a way peculiar visions on reality, but just think about it...Now we understand our being from the molecule to the atom. We have been to the God camping there. Our perspective on reality is so different from people like Augustine.

When he would have got a cold he could have believed it was God who punished him, while we know that we got a few germs from a colleague who sneezed. I think it is really interesting to look at philosophical thoughts and the historical moment, the level of knowledge about reality.

Augustine lived in a world in which he could speculate on how it was constructed like all before him. In the way they did, we cant...but we still are philosophers....:-)

The Discussion

[13:21] Maphisto Mapholisto: augustine had a very subtle grasp on aspects of the phenominal universe, such as time and time percerption - he wasn't a rustic
[13:22] Herman Bergson: what do you men Maff..he was just human being like we are
[13:22] Maphisto Mapholisto: of course
[13:23] Maphisto Mapholisto: but he was intellectually a very gifted man, and elevated reason above literal interpretation of scritpures - that's bad for his time
[13:24] Maphisto Mapholisto: not bad
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: that is true
[13:24] Herman Bergson: I dont know...
[13:24] Maphisto Mapholisto: he wouldn't have a bar of creationism now a days
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: Depends on the path not taken.
[13:25] Herman Bergson: I am very suspicious abourt people who claim to have special knowledge or insight, which I cant have
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: :-))
[13:25] Maphisto Mapholisto: but he said you could have it, lol
[13:26] Herman Bergson: oh only need to see the real light....
[13:26] Herman Bergson: but what ..when I cant?
[13:26] Maphisto Mapholisto: his kind of knowing is more like falling in love ... all you have to do is fall in love, and everything in the poems and songs makes sense
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: Very romantic.
[13:27] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol
[13:27] Herman Bergson: that isnt epistemological reasoning...that is poetry
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: I am not sure that works the way
[13:27] Ewa Aska: lol
[13:27] Cailleach Shan: What's the difference between that and 'blind faith'
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes.
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: augustine saw it
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: Sometimes we see what we want to see.
[13:28] Maphisto Mapholisto: no, being in love is a real human condition ... whether it is rational or whether it is good for society are other questions we could ask
[13:28] Ewa Aska: huhu
[13:28] Maphisto Mapholisto: they are similar, caill, aren't they
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: Bur how do we know for certain?
[13:29] Ewa Aska: we need love
[13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: we don't aristo
[13:29] Cailleach Shan: I suppose so..... it's the 'blind' bit that worries me.
[13:29] Herman Bergson: Yes...back to it is about epistemological do I know for sure
[13:29] Herman Bergson: what is certainty
[13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, and it's the blind bit that is an affront to philosopy.... but hey, love is not totally blind either
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: It sure is apuzzle.
[13:30] Ewa Aska: love is blind I think
[13:30] Osrum Sands: love is a chemical reaction to sensory input ?
[13:30] Herman Bergson: well when we look at Platonism has its postulates
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: :))
[13:30] Ewa Aska: ops haha
[13:31] Herman Bergson: philosophy is no is logic and good argument only;-)
[13:31] Cailleach Shan: We always seem to come back to the same point..... I know that I don't know...
[13:31] Ewa Aska: yes ty
[13:31] Herman Bergson: :-)
[13:31] Maphisto Mapholisto: i think we need to be careful about reductionism - 'thinking is nothing BUT electons in the brain'
[13:31] Osrum Sands: logic is a chemical occurance in the brain
[13:32] Herman Bergson: Yes are right...
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: But what of the soul?
[13:32] Ewa Aska: yes we we have one i think.a soul
[13:32] Cailleach Shan: We do? Where is it lodged then?
[13:33] Herman Bergson: Betrand Russell once said that the meaning of philosophy was to teach man to live with uncertainty...with what you dont know
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: Ithink St Augustine would have us believe we do.
[13:33] Cailleach Shan: I like that Herman...
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: ah then we are realy all philosophers then
[13:33] Herman Bergson: the soul.....
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: every day
[13:34] Tour Spoonhammer: Philosophy is thoughts going on a merrygoround of thoughts... hardly ever leading anywhere...but for the joy of thinking you find a good answer...that the hext philopher will object to
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: Ponderers we be.
[13:34] Herman Bergson: Keep in mind that our way of looking at a human being is so different from that of e.g. Augustine
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes trying to understand without modern tech.
[13:35] Osrum Sands: with respect Proff you started with the cold think
[13:35] Osrum Sands: being punishment
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: ??? I don't understand that Os.
[13:35] Osrum Sands: just going to modern scientific understanding of humand beings
[13:35] Herman Bergson: meneither..:-)
[13:36] jaynine Scarborough is Online
[13:36] Osrum Sands: you suggested that Agustine would have said a cold was a punishment from God
[13:36] Herman Bergson: no..that is not what I mean..
[13:36] Osrum Sands: then that we know different today
[13:36] Cailleach Shan: Ah..
[13:36] Osrum Sands: today we know that thinking is a bunch of chemical and electrical activity
[13:37] Ewa Aska: we will never explain human soul . never
[13:37] Osrum Sands: and love is a result of input
[13:37] Osrum Sands: ]ould body reacts
[13:37] Herman Bergson: You should keep in mind that the idea that we have a MIND apart from our SOUL is created by Freud
[13:37] Osrum Sands: no
[13:37] Osrum Sands: that Idea was around way befor him
[13:37] Herman Bergson: no OSrum?
[13:38] Ewa Aska: and Jung not only Freud
[13:38] Osrum Sands: The hebrews struggled with the idea
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: See what Augustine started.
[13:38] Osrum Sands: of oneness or duality
[13:38] Herman Bergson: no OSrum...before that the word mind/soul....refered to the same thing
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: Wasn't Augustine's big mind battle between 'freewill' and being predestined.
[13:39] Maphisto Mapholisto: and isn't that relevant today - genetics vs free will
[13:39] Herman Bergson: free will was an issue for Augustine indeed
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: Thinking is genetic?
[13:40] Ewa Aska: i think Nietzche did take things and thoughts of Augustine
[13:40] Maphisto Mapholisto: no, invoking genetics is the cirrent form of determinism, as in sociaobiology
[13:40] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, ewa
[13:40] Maphisto Mapholisto: and schoppenhauer
[13:40] Herman Bergson: Yes Ewa he Kant and Schopenhauwer..
[13:41] Ewa Aska: yes I remember that lol
[13:41] Herman Bergson: We will come to that whe it is their turn in our class..:-)
[13:41] Maphisto Mapholisto: looking forward, lol
[13:41] Ewa Aska: nice
[13:42] Maphisto Mapholisto: then we can look back at Augustine, lol
[13:42] Herman Bergson: yes indeed..:-)
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: Didnt Augustine think there were parts of the soul?
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: two
[13:43] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, very influenced by plotinus
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: An upper knowing and a lower materialistic.
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: i am not sure he put it that way though
[13:43] Herman Bergson: I am not sure, but I dont think he took over the literal version of Plotinus, but only the idea that the soul could be indulged in matter too much so it got blinded to see the good
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes tha is what I mean.
[13:44] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, he taught that evil wasn't a force in its own right, but rather imperfectly applied goods
[13:45] Maphisto Mapholisto: good out of balance
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: And so it became man's fault.
[13:45] Herman Bergson: yes indeed.
[13:45] Maphisto Mapholisto: hitler did good by his own rights
[13:45] Herman Bergson: against Manichaeism
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: The credit was gods and the blame was mans.
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: The frist blade into self-esteem.
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: first
[13:46] Maphisto Mapholisto: ithink herman's point about the times in which augustine lived is an important one
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: It's difficult to separate that out from the influence Augustine still has today..
[13:46] Ewa Aska: ofcourse it is
[13:47] Maphisto Mapholisto: which is why admire his achievenment ... not his theology, but his wrestling with psycholical issues in a very articulate manner
[13:47] Maphisto Mapholisto: but then, this is philosophy, not psychology
[13:47] Herman Bergson: yes...but that is what strikes me with every class....
[13:47] Ewa Aska: hey hey
[13:48] Herman Bergson: just imagine the world these thinkers lived in...
[13:48] Cailleach Shan: Would you elaborate that point please Herman
[13:48] Osrum Sands: ah the dreaded secularization of knowledge from Modernity
[13:48] Herman Bergson: their metaphysical ideas...
[13:48] Enea Lobo is Online
[13:49] Herman Bergson: Well Cailleach...a simple thing....we have a discipline called psychology...
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: I wonder what a philosophy class in two hundred years will think of the philosophical beliefs of today
[13:49] Herman Bergson: it implies a very specific definition of man and how he functions...
[13:49] Cailleach Shan: ok
[13:49] Maphisto Mapholisto: oh?
[13:50] Herman Bergson: that point of veiw isnst hardly 100 years old
[13:50] Cailleach Shan: Answer your own question Maff.
[13:50] Herman Bergson: before that it was so different
[13:50] Herman Bergson: besides that ..a lot of what happened to people...illnesses etc.couldnt be explained
[13:50] Maphisto Mapholisto: psychology is not a body of knowledge but a field of enquiry
[13:51] Cailleach Shan: So.... nothing specific..
[13:51] Herman Bergson: but they wanted to explain
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: Yet the mystics remain.
[13:52] Maphisto Mapholisto: anyone who considers human perceptual or cognitive processes is engaging in psychological enquiry - the ancient greeks did that
[13:52] Herman Bergson: yes Maff...but not with the scientific understandign of human physiology as we have now
[13:53] Maphisto Mapholisto: statistics? psychoanalysis?
[13:53] Herman Bergson: just think about it......we can change human emotions by chemical interference...
[13:53] Cailleach Shan: And yet.... as Aristotle says..... 'The Mystics remain'
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: It could only have been guesswork without that understanding.
[13:54] Maphisto Mapholisto: how was freud any different from augustine, aprt from knowing about germs, lol?
[13:54] Herman Bergson: emotons and pills!!
[13:54] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol
[13:54] Ewa Aska: lol
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: Cocaine?
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[13:54] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol
[13:54] Cailleach Shan: OMG
[13:54] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, he did imbibe
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: And encouraged it.
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: did he realtly??
[13:55] Ewa Aska: yes he did
[13:55] Maphisto Mapholisto: but discovered his error
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:55] Osrum Sands: drugs are but a key to a lost door
[13:55] Maphisto Mapholisto: doors of perception, eh?
[13:55] AristotleVon DoobieTimothy Leary?
[13:56] Maphisto Mapholisto: Huxley
[13:56] Osrum Sands: the door to whatever
[13:56] Cailleach Shan: Lord give me chastity and temperance......but not yet...... hehe
[13:56] Osrum Sands: hahah
[13:56] Maphisto Mapholisto: see, what a human man augustine was
[13:56] Herman Bergson: Well....ok...let's hold on
[13:56] Maphisto Mapholisto: pull us into order, teach
[13:56] Herman Bergson: With Augustine we are at the threshold of e new aera...
[13:56] Cailleach Shan: lol such human disorder.... I love it.
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: lol\
[13:57] Herman Bergson: Boethius wil be our next guest as an introductory to the Middle Ages
[13:58] Ewa Aska: ok
[13:58] Maphisto Mapholisto: the .... Dark .... gulp .... Ages?
[13:58] Ewa Aska: no it was not .lol
[13:58] Herman Bergson: Not at al Dark Maff..not t all..
[13:58] Maphisto Mapholisto: they had to allow candles i supose
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[13:59] Herman Bergson: it is a misunderstanding that Dark Middle Ages idea
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: But the other Christiona on your list?
[14:00] Herman Bergson: in fact it was a period in which European culture was preserved
[14:00] Maphisto Mapholisto: pickled ... in ale
[14:00] Cailleach Shan thought this class was going to be all serious....haven't laughed so much for years....
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: Who gets cretit/
[14:00] Herman Bergson: whatever taste you like Maff
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: maff too much sugar again
[14:00] Maphisto Mapholisto: it's you guys - you get me going, lol
[14:01] Ewa Aska: lol¨
[14:01] Osrum Sands: One would hope so - that we get going
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: What better way to learn that with laughter.
[14:01] Osrum Sands: best run around the kitchen we have had yet
[14:01] Herman Bergson: safe Cailleach laughing to death,...class dismissed
[14:01] Cailleach Shan: Hahahahahahahaaa.... ty
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you Herman.
[14:01] Ewa Aska: Ty herman .....
[14:02] Maphisto Mapholisto: thnx herman
[14:02] Osrum Sands: this small gathering from around the world is wonderfull
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: Indeed.
[14:02] Maphisto Mapholisto: thnx for being gentle with 'ol augustine
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: thank you Herman and if I may ask if anyone is still interested in joining is it ok to come for a visit
[14:02] Herman Bergson: yes it is...:-)
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: I am not.
[14:03] Herman Bergson: everyone is welcome
[14:03] Ewa Aska: ty all c u
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: ok good
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: they can catch up on the blog
[14:03] Laila Schuman: smiles at Herr Professor...
[14:03] Ewa Aska: Tor det är slut lol
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: but they will not get all the fun till they sit here
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: lol

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-11-14 03:27:26

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