1 George Heffernan Department of Philosophy Merrimack College Abstract


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Augustine’s Philosophy of Mind (London 1987); Carol Harrison, Augustine, Christian Truth, and Fractured Humanity (Oxford 2000); Gerard O’Daly, “The Response to Skepticism and the Mechanisms of Cognition”, in: Stump et al., eds., Cambridge Companion to Augustine (2001), 159–170; Charles Brittain, “Non-rational Perception in the Stoics and Augustine”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 22 (2002), 253–308.

112 R. T. Wallis, “Scepticism and Neoplatonism”, in: Haase et al., eds., Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II 36 (1987), 911–954.

113 Knut Kleve, “On the Beauty of God: A Discussion between Epicureans, Stoics, and Sceptics”, Symbolae Osloenses 53 (1978), 69–83; Malcolm Schofield, “Preconception, Argument, and God”, in: idem et al., eds., Doubt and Dogmatism (1980/1989), 283–308; A. A. Long, “Scepticism about Gods in Hellenistic Philosophy”, in: Mark Griffith and Donald Mastronarde, eds., Cabinet of the Muses: Essays on Classical and Comparative Literature in Honor of Thomas G. Rosenmeyer (Atlanta 1990), 279–291; Jaap Mansfeld, “Theology: Academic Views and Criticisms”, in: Algra et al., eds., Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy (1999), 475–478. Cf. esp. idem, ibid., 477: “In fact, the Academics … see no harm in following the custom of the land and acting in accordance with traditional religious beliefs.”

114 Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode/Truth and Method, 188–201.

115 A. A. Long, “Aristotle and the History of Greek Scepticism”, in: O’Meara, ed., Studies in Aristotelianism (1981), 79–106; Jonathan Barnes, “An Aristotelian Way with Skepticism”, in: Mohan Matthen, ed., Aristotle Today: Essays on Aristotle’s Ideal of Science (Edmonton, Alberta 1987), 51–76; C. C. W. Taylor, “Aristotle’s Epistemology”, in: Everson, ed., Epistemology (1990), 116–142; Iakovos Vasiliou, “Perception, Knowledge, and the Sceptic in Aristotle”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 14 (1996), 83–131.

116 Cf. Jennifer Hecht, Doubt—A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Jefferson and Wittgenstein (New York 2003), 198: “For Augustine, doubt had reigned for years, and now [after the agony in the garden as described in conf. 8.8.19–8.12.30] it was over. Following his lead, other Christians would see this wrangling with doubt, even to smacking oneself on the head and screaming, as an integral part of religious experience. And what was the hope? That all shadows of doubt would disappear.” Already the rest of the work shows that, apparently contrary claims notwithstanding (e.g., conf. 8.12.29: “… all the shadows of doubtfulness fled away …”), it does not really turn out that way even for Augustine himself.

117 Stock, Augustine the Reader, 278.

118 Cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae 1.

119  David Hume, Enquiries concerning Human Understanding and concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge and P. H. Nidditch (Oxford 1975), 109–131 (“Of Miracles”), 132–148 (“Of a Particular Providence and of a Future State”), 149–165 (“Of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy”); Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, ed. Richard Popkin (Indianapolis/Cambridge MA 1980), passim; The Natural History of Religion, ed. H. E. Root (Stanford 1956), passim.

120 Plato, Meno, 97a–98b; Republic, 473e–480a, 506b–509b, 509c–511e, 514a–519b; Theaetetus, 201c–210b.

121 Søren Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard’s Writings (Princeton 1978–2000), 7, 157, 175–176.

122 Idem, ibid., 169.

123 John Locke, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter Nidditch (Oxford 1975), bk. IV, ch. 19, 697–706.

124 In the original paper presented and distributed at the Lateran University in 2002 I employed the expression “Augustinian skepticism” twenty-two times. It should be clear that the way in which I used and use this term is substantially different from the way in which others do. Cf., e.g., Harding, “Skepticism, Illumination and Christianity in Augustine’s Contra Academicos” (op. cit.). “Augustinian skepticism”, according to Harding, is “limited skepticism” (ibid., 197, 201, 203, 207–212). It is the kind of skepticism that Augustine or the Augustinian skeptic instrumentalizes as a “purgative” in “clearing away those [philosophical] beliefs and concepts which may make one resistant to conversion” (ibid., 209–211): “Augustine offers his Augustinian skepticism as opening the way to the true philosophy, Christianity.” On Harding’s account, philosophy in the form of Augustinian skepticism is nothing but a propaedeutic to theology: “… the final stage of philosophy, the stage which undoes previous philosophizing, shaking up the rigid structures and calling the conceptualizations of the various schools into doubt, making room for the proper formation in the Christian faith” (ibid., 210). But not only does this account not do justice to the radical nature of Augustinian skepticism; it also reinforces the traditional view according to which conversion overcomes skepticism in Augustine. If Harding’s interpretation is right, then Academic skepticism is global and Augustinian skepticism is local. On the other hand, if my interpretation is accurate, then Augustinian skepticism is an inseparable part of faith as well as of reason in Augustine’s thought both before and after his conversion to Christianity. Again, the point of Academic skepticism is doubt, whereas the essence of Augustinian skepticism is quest.

125 “Proba et te ipsum tu ipse. Semper tibi displiceat quod es, si vis pervenire ad id quod nondum es. Nam ubi tibi placuisti, ibi remansisti. Si autem dixeris, Sufficit; et peristi: Semper adde, semper ambula, semper profice: noli in via remanere, noli retro redire, noli deviare.” In context, the first sentence has the connotation: “And you should judge [or: assess] yourself too!”

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