Augustine's Theory of Knowledge Analytical Essay by Shaad

Augustine's Theory of Knowledge
Analyzes Augustine's theory of knowledge to determine where it departs from Neo-Platonism and where it concurs with Platonism.
# 147129 | 1,485 words | 3 sources | APA | 2010 | BD

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This essay examines to what extent Platonism shapes Augustine's theory of knowledge. To this end, the writer examines the influence of Neo-Platonism, and then shows that what Augustine rejects is exactly in line with where Neo-Platonism departs from Platonism. The writer first of all distinguishes between knowledge and beatitude, showing that neo-Platonism reveres material knowledge whereas Augustine reveres beatitude. The writer then shows how Augustine overcomes scepticism through his denial that evil has a real existence. The writer then discusses the central role that memory plays in the acquisition of experiential knowledge, comparing this to Plato's assertion that all knowledge is mere remembrance of "pre-knowledge". The writer then goes on to show how memory works in conjunction with creativity and free will to deliver wisdom, and explains why Augustine calls this composite faculty the grace of God. In each stage of this analysis it is shown where Augustine departs from Neo-Platonism and is in accord with Platonism.

Knowledge and Beatitude
Against Scepticism
Nature of Sensation and Experiential Knowledge
Divine Ideas
Illumination and Abstraction

From the Paper:

"Much of Augustine's writing appears to be a direct reaction to Neo-Platonism, as it appears in the works of Plotinus and Porphyry. Neo-Platonism derives from the ideas found in the dialogues of Plato, but goes on to develop them into an elaborate cosmology. Augustine takes a highly ambivalent stance towards Neo-Platonism. On the one hand, he is palpably in awe of the explanatory power contained in this philosophy. All the greatest insights which go to make "Augustine's theory of knowledge can be easily traced to Neo-Platonist metaphysical constructs. However, he is still highly critical of the Neo-Platonist themselves, judging them to have identified the goal correctly, but not the path that would lead towards it. As Augustine saw it, the path is through wisdom, and that which is only granted through the grace of God. In the parlance of Catholicism, the path is only through Christ, who is wisdom incarnate. This is posited against the Neo-Platonist adherence to a metaphysical construct, and a moral framework that derives from it."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Armstrong, A. H. (1967). St. Augustine and Christian Platonism. Villanova: Villanova University Press.
  • Augustine. (1961). Confessions. Translated by R. S. Pine-Coffin. New York: Penguin Classics.
  • Evangeliou, C. (2006). Hellenic philosophy: origin and character. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Augustine's Theory of Knowledge (2011, February 27) Retrieved March 05, 2024, from

MLA Format

"Augustine's Theory of Knowledge" 27 February 2011. Web. 05 March. 2024. <>