Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Augustine. His Thoughts in Context

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Augustine. His Thoughts in Context

Article excerpt

Augustine. His Thought in Context. By T. Kermit Scott. (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press. 1995. Pp. iv, 253. $14.95.)

Kermit Scott, a professor of philosophy in Purdue University, has written this general introduction to the thought of Augustine.The subtitle points to the first major section: Augustine's world. He sketches a grim picture of the late Roman Empire, not an unjust one, but one that relies heavily on The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World of de Sainte-Croix. In Scott's view, Augustine, without intending to, offered the perfect ideology for sustaining the class structure of this cruel world.

The lengthy second section,"The Search for God," affords the author the opportunity to proceed through a biographically structured account of Augustine's quest as recounted in the Confessions. First there was the basic Catholic worldview absorbed from Monica, then the flirtation with Manichaeism, the encounter with the Christian Platonists of Milan, and ultimately the reversion to a more sophisticated form of his childhood beliefs. Each of these stages is labeled a myth. The final "imperial myth" seems to boil down to the belief in an omnipotent God to whom all must be subject.This in turn is what upholds the social status quo of power and submission throughout most of subsequent history.

The final section selects some of Augustine's teachings which are deemed to be central. Predestination is discussed at length.The author goes on to show that the non-philosophically based ideas of the fall and original sin complete the circle of human impotence. …

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