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Augustine's Concept of Will - Essay Example

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The paper "Augustine’s Concept of Will" explores famous philosophic ideas indicative of later Protestant formulations, yet perhaps not as extreme. Ultimately, Augustine situates the will as an intermediary between humanistic understandings of complete freedom and Protestant formulations of man as wrought into decadence through original sin…
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Augustines Concept of Will
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Download file to see previous pages In order to fully understand Augustine’s concept of the will it’s necessary to gain an understanding of the motivations and occurrences in his life that influenced and shaped his philosophy. Augustine was born in North Africa, which at the time was controlled by the Roman Empire. When Augustine turned 11 he was sent off to school at a nearby city where paganism was one of the predominant belief systems. During this period he read a wide array of philosophers, but he later described how he was extremely influenced by the famous Roman politician Cicero and his sound insights into reams of the spirit (O’donnel 2005). It’s notable that even at this early age Augustine experienced a dichotomous relationship between belief structures – namely his mother’s Christian faith, and the paganism that he had become exposed to through his studies.

At the age of 17, Augustine left North African for the Carthage region where he was exposed to an even wider array of philosophies. It was here he became exposed to the Manichaean religion and became a devoted follower. The Manichaean’s were a religious sect that stood in direct philosophic distinction from the Christian faith that Augustine’s mother held in high esteem. It seems that the Manichaean religion was more liberal in its philosophical underpinnings than the surrounding followers a Christian, and Augustine experienced a period of lasciviousness and decadence (O’donnel 2005). It’s notable that Augustine experiences this, as later in life his concept of the will is informed by an understanding of the human as born into sin, and indicates that the human capacity for a reason actually carries within it the proclivities for sin. While it may be a stretch to indicate that Augustine’s Manichaean period directly influenced this later development, it’s clear to see how Augustine’s youthful decadence may have attributed to his structuring his later understanding of the will to reflect a more accepting understanding of hedonistic impulses.  

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