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Archive for February 5th, 2014

Augustine in 90 Minutes

 (Available on Amazon)

As I said in previous reviews, this series of works introducing the readers to different philosophers has been rather disappointing and now I think I’ve found the most disappointing one in the series. The disappointment started with the very beginning of the book when the author wondered out loud about what’s the big deal with Augustine’s obsession with his guilt over his sexual sins and joked about it. I think if the author would have had a deeper wrestling with Augustine’s Confessions, one might come to a better appreciation of Augustine’s contribution in Western thought concerning the discussion of the nature of man as sinful. This experience of man’s depravity is to me one of the most verifiable claims of all the competing claims out there concerning the nature of man and yet it is one that is often denied in the West. It was also unfortunate to see in the book that the author thought that Augustine’s writing suffered from trivial squabbling about theological opponents and he didn’t understand why men in the Church was debating on Predestination when the Roman empire around them was crumbling. I wished the book would have pointed out of how Augustine’s City of God made a significant contribution in terms of how man views history as linear versus the cyclical view that dominated the Greeks and Romans before Augustine. It might be forgivable for readers to discover something the author misses but what is harder to accept is the author’s wild assertions in the book such as his claim that Christian philosophy would have nothing worthy of its name “Christian philosophy” if it wasn’t for Augustine’s use of Platonic ideas into Christian thought. This shows how little the author appreciates or understand the impact of Christianity in of itself upon Western thought. The book also had a strange discussion of a psychological explanation of philosophy that sees philosophy as an exercise of exerting one’s will of power by means of intellectually shaming others. Readers must remember that merely giving psychological explanations of why someone we disagree with hold the views they do is not the same thing as presenting reasoning and argument against their views. If there was one thing that I did learn new from the book was the fact that the Christian cliché “Love the sinner, hate the sin” originated with Augustine.

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