The Two Visions of St. Augustine

Topics: God, Faith, Plato Pages: 3 (1100 words) Published: October 8, 1999
A common thread of faith and reason runs through the two different theological visions of St. Augustine in his Confessions. This can be seen by comparing the ascent, the vision, the descent, and language in the two visions. Although other parts of the text will be referred to, the central part of these visions are as follows:Vision 1: "... in an instant of awe, my mind attained to the sight of the God who IS. Then, at last, I caught sight of your invisible nature, as it is known through your creatures. But I had no strength to fix my gaze upon them. In my weakness I recoiled and fell back..." Vision 2: "And while we spoke of the Eternal Wisdom, longing for it and straining for it with all the strength of our hearts, for one fleeting instant we reached out and touched it. Then, with a sigh, leaving our spiritual harvest bound to it, we returned to the sound of our own speech,..." (Page 197)The two excerpts are written in similar styles. Both contain strong Platonist language, such as references to the line (the image of climbing to knowledge in the second vision, page 197), the cave ("confusion of images," in the first vision, page 151), and the sun (the transient quality of the first vision, page 152). The language in each vision also refers to the method of ascent. In the first vision, Augustine makes his ascent by reason, seen through words like, "my thoughts," "the power of reason," and "bodily sense." In the second vision, Augustine and his mother, Monica, make the ascent by the power of love. This is seen by words such as, "flame of love," "our hearts," and "strength of our hearts." (Page 197)The method of ascent to each vision is significant when considering the role that faith and reason play in each. Together, the method of ascent, faith, and reason represent Augustine's journey to faith. The first ascent is necessarily made by the mind and reason, necessarily because Augustine has not yet received faith,...
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