Augustine's Thoughts on Free Will Essay

Augustine's Thoughts on Free Will Essay

Length: 752 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

One thing that philosophers are great at is asking big questions, usually without providing answers. However, Saint Augustine has a more direct approach to his speculation, often offering a solution to the questions he poses. One such topic he broached in The City of God against the pagans. In this text, Augustine addresses the problem of free will and extends his own viewpoint. Stating that humankind can have free will with an omniscient God, he clarifies by defining foreknowledge, free will, and how they can interact successfully together (Augustine, 198). Throughout his argument, he builds a compelling case with minimal leaps of faith, disregarding, of course, that you must believe in God. He first illustrates the problem of free will, that it is an ongoing questions amongst many philosophers, then provides insight into the difference between fate and foreknowledge. Finally, finishing his argument with a thorough walk-through on how God can know everything, and yet not affect your future decisions.
Before we dive into what Augustine has to say about free will, we must first understand what the problem is. In The HarperCollins Dictionary of Philosophy, the problem of free will is defined as:
“If all human actions are caused, then how can concepts found in our everyday experience such as blame, responsibility, duty. . . be made meaningful?. . . If God has complete foreknowledge of everything that will happen, and is also omnipotent, then God must have organized all things to happen the way in which God has foreknowledge that they will happen” (Angeles, 115-116)
What this quote says, is that how can we possibly be responsible for our own actions if God knows what we are going to do anyways, and if God does know everyth...

... middle of paper ...

...e a firm belief in God to apply to everyone, this same argument may be tweaked just a bit to fit an atheists point of view on free will, thus making it more accessible to everyone. Reading through Augustine's argument has only made my own belief's on free will stronger.

Works Cited

Angeles, Peter A. The HarperCollins Dictionary of Philosophy. 2nd ed. New York: HarperPerennial. 1992. Print.
Augustine, Saint.  “Of the Foreknowledge of God and the Free Will of Man, Against the Definition of Cicero” Book V. Chapter 9.  The City of God Against the Pagans.  Ed. and Trans. R. W. Dyson.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1998. 198-204. Print.
Augustine, Saint.  “Whether Necessity Governs the Wills of Men.” Book V. Chapter 10.  The City of God Against the Pagans.  Ed. and Trans. R. W. Dyson.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1998. 204-206. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on St. Augustine 's Theory Of God

- St. Augustine’s was one of the most profound philosophers regarding Christianity, he defined Christianity in a unique way that had not been done since the religion had surfaced. At the time this religion was only four centuries old making it much younger then it’s competing religions. As a new religion, before, God had only been perceived, as a metaphysical substance however had no ties to more familiar philosophical notions. For example his literary work Confessions, he revealed his interpretation of Christianity on a personal level while producing a sophisticated interpretation of God’s word by merging it with widely spread Platonic ideas....   [tags: Soul, Metaphysics, Augustine of Hippo]

Better Essays
1069 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on St. Augustine: Thoughts on Good and Evil

- Author Claudia Gray stated, “Self-knowledge is better than self-control any day” (Goodreads). Evil and sin exists in our world today and the temptation they bring bounds many human’s spiritual being. Finding the root of all evil is a hard and torturous concept to understand, but knowing one’s own free will helps bring understanding and deliverance from the evils of the world. Throughout the book Confessions Saint Augustine “ponders the concepts of evil and sin and searches the root of their being” (Augustine 15)....   [tags: religion, phylosophy, ]

Better Essays
872 words (2.5 pages)

Augustine´s View on the Origins of Sin, Grace, and Free Will Essays

- Augustine uses the genre of an autobiography to demonstrate his thoughts on how he ultimately accepted Christianity and his development as a Christian in his work, Confessions. The beauty of his book is that even though it is presented as an autobiography, the events depicted show the mysterious yet graceful acts of God and his journey through those very events. He presented many ideas, but focused primarily on his ideas of the origins of sin, grace, and free will. In some ways, Augustine describes a free will that cannot be understood without considering the nature of sin and grace....   [tags: christianity, catholicism, autobiography]

Better Essays
1195 words (3.4 pages)

Addressing the Problem of Evil in On Free Choice of the Will by Augustine

- In “On Free Choice of the Will”, Augustine indicates the importance of his beliefs and opinions of human nature and of God. He thinks as greatly of God as possible and centralizes his thoughts of goodness with the concept of being/form (God); he also gives a description of how God’s rightness can be interpreted clearly through the evil doings of the world. One of the biggest and most difficult problems facing people is the problem of doing evil. If God is being, unchanging, eternal and all-powerful, then how is it that people do evil....   [tags: philosophy, god, sin]

Better Essays
1832 words (5.2 pages)

Comparing St. Augustine's and Jonathan Edwards' Views on the Origin of Sin

- The origin of sin into the world is a theological topic that many theologians have expressed their views and thoughts. Of course, it is interesting for the theologians to guide the believers on how sin got into the world. This helps the believers in making cautious and informed decisions that may not lead them to wrong directions leading to sin. Although many theologians have given their views on this topic, my paper seeks to analyze comparatively the views of Saint Augustine and Jonathan Edwards....   [tags: religious phylosophy and beliefs]

Better Essays
1020 words (2.9 pages)

The Beliefs That All Souls Come From God Essay

- Philosophy Essay The primary reason for going in favor of Saint Augustine because we share similar beliefs that all souls come from God, he explains how the soul is responsible for human’s free choice of will. This can validate that every decision an individual make are not judged off their surroundings or what they observe. I will explain how Augustine talked about his beliefs relating how God is not responsible for evil in a human soul, reasons why because of pre-existence of the soul already....   [tags: Soul, Metaphysics, Augustine of Hippo]

Better Essays
1183 words (3.4 pages)

The Contributions of St. Augustine and Brigid of Kildare to Christianity

- The Contributions of St. Augustine and Brigid of Kildare to Christianity St. Augustine and Bridgid of Kildare were two very influential people in the church during the fourth and fifth centuries. St. Augustine and Bridgid of Kildare were most famous for the monasteries that they founded. Both St. Augustine and Bridgid were devout Christians who contributed greatly to the growth of Christianity. Both of these people encouraged the spread of Christianity, the belief in a life of solitude, and inspired many to follow in their footsteps....   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
1012 words (2.9 pages)

The Metaphysical One in Platonic and Augustinian Thoughts Essay

- The legacy of Plato left its distinctive brand of influence on St. Augustine's beliefs and writings, of this there is no doubt. In Confessions, Augustine himself professed that it was the Platonic books that enabled him to attach himself to his God. However, it is evident that Augustine re-augmented much of the Platonic thoughts and, combining them with the early Christian doctrines, configured the hybrid into what became the foundation of Catholicism. The differences—as well as similarities—that exist between the two thought systems can be dissected from two points: the nature of the metaphysical supreme One and its relationships with the Many....   [tags: Philosophy Essays]

Better Essays
2190 words (6.3 pages)

Intellectual Freedom - It Isn't Free Essay

- Intellectual Freedom - It Isn't Free We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown. T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Very few of us are unfamiliar with the Genesis account of creation, where it is written that "God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." [1] The obvious point is that God creates the world; but later writings have chosen to focus on the idea that the divine being both creates and destroys by the power of His word alone....   [tags: Politics Political]

Free Essays
4782 words (13.7 pages)

Essay about augustine

- Augustine "I loved the happy life but I feared to find it in Your house and so I ran from it even as I sought after it. I thought that I would be miserable if I were kept from a woman's arms. I did not believe that a cure for this disease lay in Your mercy; I had no experience of such a cure. I believed that continence was within a man's own powers, though I was unaware of such a power within me. I was a fool and did not know - as it is written [in Scripture] - that no man can be continent unless You grant it to him....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1535 words (4.4 pages)