Knowledge Rather than Correct Opinion: Analyzing the Nature of Augustine’s Confession and Reflection

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In his book Confessions, Saint Augustine writes about his conversion from a Manichee to a Christian. He confesses to God and asserts that God is “incorruptible and inviolable and unchangeable” (Augustine 111). Based on his deep faith in God, Augustine abandons the concept of Manichee dualism and believes in God as “not only [the] good but the supreme good” (114). At first he has no idea what the nature of evil is, but finally he starts to understand that the nature of evil is not a substance at all, but rather “a perversity of will twisted away from the highest substance [– God]” (Augustine 124-126). He contends that the totality, rather than the evil or goodness of individual things should be considered (125). In this essay, I am going to …show more content…
The concept of “tied down” is particularly interesting. Correct opinion does not belong to a person until that person him/herself manages to fully understand and explain the meaning of that opinion, which we then call knowledge. Therefore, knowledge, according to Socrates is of higher level than correct opinion, for it belongs to the person who owns it and does not vanish as time evolves. Now that we have clear definitions of knowledge and correct opinion, we shall see that Augustine’s understanding of evil is better described as “knowledge”. Although Augustine was once a Manichaeism believer, he “affirmed and firmly held divine immunity from pollution and change and the complete immutability of our God […]” when he was writing this book (113). This belief lays a rational basis for his understanding of evil and goodness, and it is crucial to his reflection characterized as knowledge. Although nobody knows whether on earth God exists or not, Augustine’s belief in the existence of God sounds reasonable in his era. Despite his deep faith in God, however, Augustine was not really sure whether God has a concrete body or not. He imagines that God is physically spread all over the world, that God permeates everything in the world (112). By making this premise, he asserts that “a larger part of the earth would possess more of [God] and a smaller part less” (Augustine 112). However, he also figures out that such conjecture is not true because God, as a

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