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UT PHL 301 - Augustine

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PHL 301 1st Edition Lecture 8Outline of Last Lecture II.Academic skepticismIII.Pyrrhonian skepticismIV.Zhuangzia.Objective and subjectiveb.Unity of variabilityc.Problem of criteriond.DreamingV.Philo of Alexandriaa.Illusionb.Argument from comparisonOutline of Current LectureVI.Plato’s virtue as rational controlVII.Augustine’s “millions of parts in a soul”a.Conflicting desiresb.Conflicting emotionsc.Conflicting reasonsVIII.Contra AcademiaIX.MetaphysicsCurrent LectureWe begin the analysis of Augustine’s school of thought with Plato’s view of virtue as rational control. Recalling that Plato’s soul is divided into three parts, wisdom, self-control, and courage, or the excellence of reason, excellence of desire, and excellence of emotion, respectively. Additionally, there is a fourth virtue called justice, which is the balance of the threeparts. Plato contests that each part of the soul cannot conflict with itself, so the only conflicts possible are reason versus desire, desire versus emotion, and reason versus emotion. Augustine disagrees with this view. He proposes that the soul is actually split into millions of parts and that each part of Plato’s soul can be in conflict with itself. For example, Augustine said his desires conflicted when he wanted to study but also wanted to do charity work, yet he only had time for one of these desires. In this conflict, each option is equally reasonable, and emotion does not play a role. This is how Augustine defines weakness of will. These notes represent a detailed interpretation of the professor’s lecture. GradeBuddy is best used as a supplement to your own notes, not as a substitute.For example, if a man wants to eat a piece of cake, but he wants to not want to eat the cake, and he gives in to the desire he wishes he did not have, he possesses weakness of will. Similarly, emotions can conflict. In fact, “mixed feelings” are very common. A man named Catullus writes, about a woman, that “I hate and I love, why you may ask? I do not know,but I feel it, and I am in torment.” This is an example of conflicting emotions he feels towards one subject. Emotional conflicts are divided into three types: approach-avoidance, approach-approach, and avoidance-avoidance. A simple example of two approaches conflicting are whether to get chocolate icecream or strawberry, presuming that only one can be picked. On the other hand, two conflicting avoidances could be picking between the lesser of two evils, provided that one must be chosen over the other.Furthermore, reasons can conflict. For example, the statement “This sentence is false” conflicts with itself logically. If the statement were true, it would be false. If it were false, it would be true, and there would be no logical way to interpret it correctly. Now, the concept of Contra Academia, or Augustine’s argument against the Academic Skeptics, is based on the conclusion that perception is usually reliable. Augustine says that just as we may trust a friend who has deceived us once or twice, we can trust our senses for the most part, even though they may sometimes deceive us. He further concludes that if he has been deceived, that must mean that he exists, and therefore has some knowledge on the matter. In this way, knowledge is not impossible. One can say, “that apple seems red to me” andbe correct because he does indeed perceive the apple to be red. Whether or not it is actually red does not come into question in such a statement. Shifting gears to Metaphysics, Augustine describes the concept of the eye of the mind, which he argues is necessary to know abstract concepts, or universals. For example, geometers study triangularity in general rather than each particular case of a triangle. Augustine agrees with most classical rationalists that he can know something without experience by just thinking about it. He believes that God created a blueprint of the world and put the same blueprint into each person’s mind. However, each person’s mind is very finite and cannot hold the entire world’s information, but it does hold, innately, a part of the information that the world is made


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