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Essay/Term paper: Augustine and love

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Cliff Notes

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April 14, 2000



Seminar 021





How does Augustine define love?





Augustine states continuously that he was not yet in love, but was in love with love. This statement doesn"t make sense to me. I don"t believe that someone can be in love with something, if he or she doesn"t understand what love is. "I was not yet in love, but I was in love with love, and from the very depth of my need hated myself for not more keenly feeling the need." (pg. 35) How can Augustine hate himself if he doesn"t know what loves feel like? I think a lot of Augustine"s statements about love are interesting. Augustine has some very good points about love, but he contradicts himself also. Is Augustine saying he wasn"t in love or he doesn"t understand love? Both of these statements make me wonder how can he be in love with love, if he isn"t in love.

After stating this, Augustine continues to support his statement by talking about friendship. Is the friendship Augustine mentions lustful or sincerely about love? "Thus I polluted the stream of friendship with the filth of unclean desire and sullied its limpidity with the hell of lust." (pg. 35) Obviously Augustine is letting the idea of love turn straight to lust. He talks about unclean desires, but he says he wants to be clean and courtly. Maybe Augustine has the wrong idea about love. Love is when you care deeply about someone and will do anything for them. Thinking about sexual desires and physical attractions are defining lustful ideas. Is Augustine talking about different kinds of love?

Augustine states that he wants to be forgiven for the corruption of his soul so he can love God again. He also states whatever pleases you, you should love Him who created it. "If material things please you then praise God for them, but turn back your love upon Him who made them." (pg. 60) He continues this thought by saying we should love God for he created the world and without God we wouldn"t be able to love anything in this world. He also states that God made the world and didn"t leave. So is Augustine implying that if someone makes something and abandons it, that he or she shouldn"t be loved?

I think Augustine is implying that only those who create something and stay around should be loved. I agree with Augustine about this. If God would of created the world and left, I would of thought he created the world by mistake. By sticking around or admitting to creating the world, I feel as if God is able and willing to deal with whatever circumstances that may come His way. Augustine tells sinners to return to their heart and abide to God. Is Augustine saying that God doesn"t create evil? Or is he saying that sinners learn to love evil and evil takes over their hearts? If God created everything, didn"t he create evil as well? I think God created the devil, who was banned from God"s kingdom, and he began preaching against God"s word. If God created the devil and the devil created evil, then God created evil. I don"t think God directly created evil, but indirectly through the devil. God realized that evil isn"t good so he made the devil exit his kingdom.

Augustine begins to talk about how his marriage was arranged. " Great effort was made to get me married. I proposed, the girl was promised me." (pg. 102) He continues to state that his mother wanted him to get married. Is Augustine truly in love with this girl? I don"t think so, if he was truly in love with her he wouldn"t need his mother to decide on marriage. I think Augustine really cared about this girl, but was being influenced to marry her by his mother. He goes on to explain how the girl wanted him to show her a vision for their future marriage. It seems to me as if the girl isn"t all that sure about their love. I think she is telling Augustine this, to see if he truly loves her with all his heart and to see if he"s ready to get married.

Augustine mentions the idea about receiving personal glory when one"s loved. Augustine is stating that people love to be praised. Is this kind of love selfish? I believe it is selfish. If not selfish, I wouldn"t define it as true love. True love is doing something out of the kindness of your heart, you don"t expect any favors in return. "The report of men"s mouths and deeds known to men, bring with them a most perilous temptation from the love of praise, which goes round almost begging for compliments and piles them up for our own personal glory." (pg. 205) I interpret this statement to mean that people are tempted to be loved because those who are loved are often praised.

In general after I read Confessions I believed that Augustine had some interesting thoughts. I wouldn"t agree with half of them dealing with love. I think he brings some important ideas about lust and the temptation of being praised. Augustine knows that many other adversities come along with love. Love isn"t an easy stage for people to go through, but when we are ready to love we shouldn"t be afraid to love. I wouldn"t call Augustine ignorant when he talks about love. In all actuality I think the different stages he has been through make him wise regarding love. He wasn"t able to love with all his heart, but Augustine understood what it took to be able to love sincerely. I think Augustine defines love as a state of being where you give all of yourself to another person. Regardless of the person, whether it"s God, a significant other, or a certain thing. Love is a mental, spiritual, and physical state that makes us a better person in the end. 

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