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St. Augustine Accepts Platonic Concept Essay

955 words - 4 pages

St. Augustine was a Christian Platonist. He Christianizes many of Plato’s Greek concepts. In Confessions, St. Augustine used many Neo-plationic terms and ideas but in Book VII is when he finally has a revelation about the similarities of Philosophy and Christianity. In class, we have discussed a number of ways in which St. Augustine accepts the ideas of Plato; one of those being the theory of forms. Plato’s theory of forms describes the divine to be in the invisible, perfect, intangible world. St. Augustine believed that Plato’s theory of the forms was compatible with his Christian beliefs because of a vision he had while trying to picture God.
We are introduced to the Forms in Plato’s dialogue the Phaedo. The Theory of Forms says that there are two distinct levels of existence: the visible world of sights and sounds that we live in and the intelligible world of Forms that stands superior to the visible world and gives it being. For example, Plato says that in as well as being able to identify a beautiful person or a beautiful object, we also have a general conception of what Beauty is itself, and that we are able to know the beauty in a person or an object only because we have this conception of Beauty in the Form. We know that things are beautiful because it participates in the Form of Beauty. In Plato’s words, “if there is anything beautiful besides the Beautiful itself, it is beautiful for no other reason than that it shares in that Beautiful.” This Form of Beauty is invisible, eternal, and unchanging, unlike the things in the visible world that change and lose their beauty. The Theory of Forms envisions a whole world of things such as these, a world that exists outside of time and space. This is where Beauty, Justice, Courage, Temperance, and other things like it exist, where they remain untarnished by the changes and imperfections of the visible world. St. Augustine was introduced to this theory when he read a neo-platonic book (which he did not name) which sparked his interest and then annoys him with the fact that Christ isn’t mentioned. After only barely reached the his excitement for this new found work, Augustine quickly turns starts to focus on what he did not find, which is Christ. The Neoplatonists believed in the idea of God, who is the creator of but they mention nothing about the idea that Christ dwells with us in the flesh. Augustine also makes two other criticisms of Neoplatonism. He is upset at the fact that the Neoplatonists do not give praise to God, and he says that it is tainted by their polytheist tendencies in their writings. He would, however, receive a revelation through God that withheld with the...

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