Augustinianism is a direction in Western European theological-philosophical thought, the primary theoretical source of which was the teaching of Augustine. The most significant influence enjoyed in the Middle Ages. Until the 12th century, it did not depart from the teachings of Augustine in numerous compilations (from Prosper Aquitaine to Peter of Lombard), nor in attempts to “update” specific Augustinian concepts (Anselm of Canterbury, Hugo St. Victor). Became more open and eclectic in the first half of the 13th century (Alexander of Hales, Jean of La Rochelle, Guillaume of Auvergne). Has found a philosophical identity in the second half of the 13th – the beginning of the 14th century, when his opposition to the spread of Aristotelianism was accompanied by increasingly active assimilation of the ideas of Aristotle and his interpreters of the Neo-Platonic orientation (Avicenna, Avizebron). The polemics of the Augustinian, mostly Franciscans, with the Thomists, predominantly the Dominicans, sharpened by the condemnation of a number of Thomist theses in Paris in 1277 by the Parisian bishop Etienne Tampier, stimulated a new approach to interpreting the texts of Augustine and the formulation of the most typical Augustinian teachings, but at the same time revealed the different philosophical positions of representatives of the later medieval Augustinianism , the main line of development of which passed from Bonaventura through Henry of Ghent to Duns Scotus. The followers of Bonaventure were Walter of Bruges (1225-1307), Matthew of Aquasparta (1235-1302), Eustachius of Arras (died 1291), John Peckham (1225-1292), Roger Marston (1303) and others. The crisis of Bonaventure’s school was confirmed by the works of L. Olivi (1248-1296), Richard of Middletown (died 1307). A critical attitude towards his predecessors (including Henry of Ghent) was characteristic of Duns Scotus.

In solving the cardinal question of the relationship between theology and philosophy, the Augustinian (above all Bonaventure and his disciples) sought to subordinate philosophy to theological constructs, limiting the scope of its competence to explaining some dogmas (for example, about the being of God) and developing logical instruments. Recognition (for instance, Duns Scotus) of the special cognitive meaning of metaphysics was accompanied by a simultaneous narrowing of the range of theological positions that allowed rational justification. By assigning a role to the “physical”, that is, the causal, proof of the existence of God, the Augustinian usually preferred the “metaphysical”, that is, the ontological, a priori (Henry of Ghent) or a posteriori (Duns Scotus) – arguments based on the principle of superiority of the idea of ​​absolute being over all other ideas. Quite often there were references to the virtual innateness of the idea of ​​God to the human soul (Alexander from Gels, Bonaventure), to the “inner instinct of consciousness” (Olivi).

The ontology of Augustinianism focused on the development of theological problems was imbued with the spirit of creationism. Divine ideas, the doctrine of which was traditional for Christian Neoplatonism, were interpreted by Bonaventure as the similarity of all things expressing the creative nature of the Logos; at the same time, Henry of Ghent under the influence of Avicenna attributed to them – before their realization in external reality – the “essential being” in the divine mind, and Duns Scot, on the contrary, recognized for them only a relative, “knowable being.” Bonaventure defended the thesis of the creation of the world in time and tried to prove the logical inconsistency of the concept of created infinity, rejecting both the averoist position about the eternity of the universe, and the evasive position of Thomas Aquinas, but Duns Scotus questioned the expediency of these attempts. While objecting to the Thomist thesis that the ontological status of creations is characterized by a real difference in essence and existence, some Augustinians shared the doctrine of real identity in the conceptions of essence and existence, but in most cases, they defined the difference in essence and existence as an intermediate between logical and practical differences.

The most typical means for the Franciscan Augustinian to distinguish between the created, including incorporeal, substances from the Creator was the indication of the connection in them of form and matter, or the concept of the so-called universal gilemorphism, erected to Augustine, and sometimes to Avicero. At the same time, the thesis that matter is initially inherent in minimal relevance was upheld by supporters (John Pekka, Richard of Middletown), and opponents of the concept (Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus).

Late medieval Augustinianism, spreading the antitomist doctrine of the plurality of substantial forms into the sphere of anthropology, postulated the existence in man of several hierarchically ordered forms (at least two, that is, of a reasonable soul and a sort of human corporeality, as, for example, in Henry of Ghent). In general, the anthropology of Augustinianism (as for Augustine) is characterized by a fluctuation between the platonic interpretation of the soul as a self-sufficient spiritual substance and Aristotelian – as an entelechy, or body form. Bonaventure and others emphasized the first interpretation, but many (including Henry of Ghent and Duns Scotus) preferred a more moderate psychosomatic dualism, the union of the soul with the body. Unlike the Thomists, the Augustinian argued that the potencies of the soul do not differ from its essence.

The question of the possibility of reliable knowledge of the truth was posed in Augustinianism in connection with the interpretation of Augustine’s doctrine of illumination (divine enlightenment). The truth of things was called their correspondence to the eternal prototypes, and the truth of the utterances was the correspondence of what was asserted to the real state of things, with the intelligible correctness of the correspondence between the sign AND indicated, and in particular between the mind and the thing. Many Augustinian recognized divine ideas are not the object of reliable intellectual knowledge, but its basis. Trying to update the Augustinian doctrine of illumination, some authors brought her closer to the Aristotelian-Avicenna doctrine of an active mind (John Peckham, Roger Marston). The active “rehabilitation” of the natural light of the mind is characteristic of Richard of Middletown, as well as of Duns Scotus, in his criticism of the illuminism of Henry of Ghent, emphasizing the intuitive perception of the primordial, sensory experience and internal acts. Some thinkers were inclined to supplement the Augustinian doctrine of illuminations with the Aristotelian doctrine of abstraction, although they only extended it to the sphere of the so-called lower mind. The convergence of the active and possible (potential) reason was expressed in attributing to a possible mind certain cognitive activity and the ability to be directly affected by an active mind. The Augustinian adhered to the Augustinian thesis about the active nature of sensory cognition, although it sometimes combined it with the Aristotelian thesis of the passivity of feeling (for example, Bonaventure). Some authors considered the external object only as an incentive for creating a soul of the idea of ​​it, while others (for example, Duns Scotus) allowed for active interaction of the object and sensual ability. At the same time, the possibility of intellectual cognition of individual material things was also recognized: mediated, or – much more often – direct, in particular intuitive.

Drawing on the tradition of so-called Christian Socratism, many representatives of Augustinian argued for the primacy of introspection over the knowledge of the external world, the self-knowledge of the human soul was interpreted as an actual perception of the soul of its existence and its essence, without the aid of external senses (Bonaventura). Intuitive knowledge of internal acts was sometimes considered a prerequisite for direct contemplation of the essence of the soul (for example, in the Franciscan Bitam du Fura), and sometimes – not (for example, in Duns Scotus). The Augustinian’s inability to avoid the dualism of the pure and empirical self was due to the duality of their approach to the question of self-awareness, which manifested itself in the friction between the speculative concept of self-consciousness, subordinating the analysis of the mind, or pure self, to trinitarian elaborations, and the concept of an inner feeling acting as a theory of human self- or empirical “I”. One (for example, Henry of Ghent) emphasized the first concept, while others (for example, Duns Scotus) emphasized the latter, giving the inner feeling the main role also in the comprehension of volitional acts and free will by man. The voluntarism of Augustinianism, in contrast to Thomistic intellectualism, was associated with the doctrine of the primacy of the good over truth and love over knowledge. According to the Augustinian, the human will, which has freedom of choice and autonomous activity, surpasses reason enough to neglect its recommendations, the object proposed by the mind is only an obligatory condition (Olivi, Roger Marston, Henry of Ghent) or partial cause (late Duns Scotus) of the strong-willed act.

In philosophical and historical constructions, the representatives of Augustinianism did not depart from Augustine’s providentialistic attitudes; in political doctrines, they traditionally adhered to the thesis of the superiority of spiritual power over the secular.

The so-called philosophical Augustinianism of the 2nd half of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century was replaced by the theological Augustinianism of the 14th century, whose representatives (Grigory of Rimini) were particularly concerned with the problem of the correlation of free will, predestination and grace, and in their opposition to the “new Pelagians”, mainly to the Occamists , adhered to the concept of divine predestination. They gravitated toward theological determinism, that is, the view that the free will of God, which is the cause of all events in the created world, including the random ones, is in harmony with the eternal divine knowledge (Bradwardine) or divine perfection (Gregory of Rimini). Theological determinism influenced the approaches to the predetermination of pre-reform (J. Wickliffe) and reformational (Luther, Calvin, Karlstadt) thinkers (in their search for “correct” understanding of Augustine). Both the Protestant conception of predestination and Pelagianism were condemned at the Council of Trent, where one of the heralds of orthodox Augustinianism was the general of the Augustinian Order of J. Seripando. However, the contradictions that were not resolved within the Catholic tradition itself, which were reflected, in particular, in the positions of the Spanish Jesuit L. de Malina (who was accused more than once of hidden Pelagianism) and his opponent K. Janseny (author of the Augustin Labor), subsequently manifested themselves in dramatic polemics “The defenders of Augustine”, the Jansenists (including A. Arno) and sympathized with them B.Pascal with the Jesuits. A notable contribution to the compromise codification of the theological Augustinianism, corresponding to the dogmatic canons of Catholicism, was introduced by Cardinal Noris, who opposed the “extremes” of Molinism and Jansenism, and after him – F. Bellley, L. Berty.

The influence of Augustine and the Augustinian tradition on Western European modern philosophy, especially the French one, was significant (Arno, Pascal, Bossuet). Although the branch of the ideas of Augustinianism in the metaphysics of Descartes, who was familiar with the admirers of Augustine by the oratorians de Beruellem and Gibieux, was mainly of an indirect nature, the further evolution of Cartesianism was associated with its Augustinianization, reaching its apogee in the philosophy of Malebranche. The reception of the ideas of Augustinianism continued in the 19th century (Rozmini-Serbati, Joberti), and in the 20th century (Blondel, Lavelle, Sciacca).

Rate your experience with this philosophy study!

Discuss this Study