Augustine had a firm and enthusiastic spirituality concept of ontology. According to him, the spiritual and material worlds are diametrically opposed worlds that cannot coexist in the same way that day and night cannot. His stand is rigid, with both functional and non-functional sections that require some degree of flexibility. Augustine discusses the platonic texts extensively in his book of confession, arguing that his previous thoughts were entirely based on ordinary sense materialism. According to the analysis, it was these Platonist books that inspired him to think about non-physical substance. This paper aims to unravel Augustine’s spiritual concepts and beliefs of ontology regarding the material world.
There are concepts of his work concerning the material world that are realistic and others that need adjustments in and not adopted as they appear. Realities (a) he argues in confession VII.x.16 that God is the ultimate point of source of all good things, truth, and all world material things. One can argue out that if all human being are mortal and their races all cease at the end of the day, there exists a supranational nature – God according to all spiritual books and beliefs. His existence shows that all the visible things under the sun originate from someone and somewhere; from God. (b) Augustine’s argument in confession VII-12 that evil is a privatization of good tends to hold waters. In the ordinary life situation, government officials, private sector employees, and the general public have normalized corruption and all forms of evil as the better way of getting good things. They get material wealth in using corrupt methods and at the end of the day, the society that they come from celebrating them as heroes and hard workers. Common sense at the back of our minds tells us that corrupt deals are evil and the society need not embrace them. (c)In life some temptations and consequences result whenever we fall into them, in confession 3, III-5, the Manichees tried to tempt him that he was better off loving the sun that is real and he can see it than basing his hopes on fantasies that have no material basis. It is a fact that the faith needs to be upheld once someone has taken the path and one should not fall on to the trap of the other personal beliefs.(d) In confession XI-11, the spiritualist expresses that the confession of evil works if the initial beginning of all the good works in somebody’s life. It is indeed beyond doubt that fact is the bedrock of all freedom. Life-based on lies results in the uncertainties and lack of collaboration among the human race. In agreement with Augustine’s spiritual point of view, we should base life on firm principles truth being in the mix for the achievement of human tolerance achieved.
Adjustments to Augustine’s point of view to the material world. (a) In confession IV.xii.18, the spiritualist puts it that there exists a vast disparity between the material rational world and the intelligible realm. The material world contains transitory objects that are temporary while the clear, spiritual one is characterized by abiding realities and hope that is promised to be realized whenever the material world comes to a tragic end. It is sensible and fair enough to bring out a clear connection between the two different world. The relationship between the spiritual world and the physical one should be emphasized. The human race should be made spiritually free by creating a connection to enable all to be enjoying the material things of the world and still be promised of the ultimate enjoyment in the spiritual realm. (b) Confession VI-14 claims that the soul of a man commits fornication once it turns away from God. This part completely victimizes a man for a sin he has not committed physically. There needs to be condemnation to a man strictly when he commits the act of sex with a woman who is not willing to have it, and there should be entirely no connection between turning away from God and sex. A spade should be called a spade, not a big spoon. (c) Theft is a vice in any society, and it brings about a lot of guilt to the thief. In chapter IX.17 of Augustine’s confession, sin and lament are expressed directly to the creator. As a result, it brings no sense since God is absent physically and we believe that he works through human beings. This part should be changed so that the thief confesses to the person he stole from for forgiveness. Through this, God will recognize and forgive the thief too.
People need not refrain from involvement with the material world, but instead, they should have a social responsibility in changing the way people get involved in it and mode of acquisition of the materials. Augustine argues in his confessions that material world is sensible and temporary and people need to refrain from perusing it. He says that materialism will finally at the end perish and we need to seek the spiritual world that promises the rescue of humanity when the physical world shall come to pass. Hope about the future is one precious thing that no human being should forsake since it remains the bedrock of all hopes and achievements under the sun. The only point that people need not miss is that their lives almost entirely depend on materialism. They here should be a guide to materialism pursuit but with accountability and responsibility, making Sure that they do not deprive the rights of other parties and their lines not cross.
There are extreme social consequences from Augustine’s idea of ontology and ethics. He narrates well in book one chapter VI. 14, the results of turning the soul away from God. He says that this is unlawful and punishable dearly. He says that death shall claim the lives of those that pursue selfish ambitions to acquire worldly things. In confessionIV.9 of book one, there exist severe consequences about the theft of other people’s property. He says that burglary and robbery are punishable by law though sinners continue to pursue their selfish ambitions to acquire worldly materials. Shame and lack of profit are the repercussions that result from the act of robbery to gain wealth. Augustine articulates the fact well in chapter VII of confession book one.
We need to understand reality and ethical responsibilities in the material world by thorough understanding the way materialism work by focusing our analysis on past experiences on how the materials were acquired. As a result, it will enable us to use the legally tested and acceptable means of acquisition of such things based on witnessed ways but not mere fantasies. The reason as to why we should understand the reality and responsibility of the real word are because it affects daily human lives and their wellbeing. The ethical obligations need to be recognized for people to understand practical consequences that are tied to this world and how to responsible involve in it without breaking common sense laws that apply to us all in the world.
Philosophical discussion on spirituality and materiality on Augustine’s confession is present in many of his statements. In book one confession IX, He said: “u understand so that you may believe, believe so that you may understand.” He leaves a situation of suspense that shallow human interpretation cannot understand. This statement is philosophical because for you to believe; you have to understand and also for you to understand, you have to believe. This spiritualist says in his confession iii in book two, “faith may refer to evil things as well as to good.” This statement suggests that faith can apply to those who bank it on evil things and those attaching it to the good. The statement has two sides, and this makes it philosophical. He also says in confession X .5 book one that there can be no good without bad. The argument shows that for good things to come, there must be evil involved in it and vise-verse. In confession II.10 book three, he says, “And, though no one is willingly miserable, one may, nevertheless, be pleased to be merciful so that we love their sorrows because without them we should have nothing to pity.” The confession shows that without sorrow there cannot be love.
Augustine stresses on various social issues on his confession. He emphasizes so much on education and argues that the knowledge we seek in the world doesn’t amount to Godly wisdom. According to him, accurate intelligence and valuable education come from the wisdom of the word of God. The argument is a bit funny since for someone to gain understanding; there have to get access to information .it doesn’t matter on which subject or on who.
Outler, Albert Cook, ed. Augustine: Confessions and Enchiridion. Westminster, 1955.
Lyotard, Jean-François. The confession of Augustine. Stanford University Press, 2000.
Vessey, Mark. “Conference and Confession: Literary Pragmatics in Augustine’s” Apologia contra Hieronymum”.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 1.2 (1993): 175-213.