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Tuesday, March 29

March 29, 2016

WWTWWT: Today we talked about St. Augustine; his history (he’s one of the most famous Christian converts) and his works (especially his Confessions, sometimes called the first modern autobiography, and City of God, which proposes — similar to Platonic thought — that we all live in two cities simultaneously: our city on Earth, and the heavenly city of God. (Which is the real city, in this line of thinking.) Augustine’s job was to square Christian thinking with Platonic thought; it would be nearly a thousand years before St. Thomas Aquinas did the same thing with Aristotle.

We also discussed Augustine’s reasons for believing there is a God, and how such a God can let evil exist. The free will defense was an important one; namely, that as rational beings, humans must have free will. Because we have free will, we can choose to do good or evil. Therefore, “God is not the parent of evils,” as it says in your book. (Of course, the idea that we do have free will would be challenged by future thinkers, but we’ll get there when we get there, which will be soon.)

Besides the free will defense, we added these reasons proposed by early Christian thinkers that might explain the presence of evil:

2. A perfect God would necessarily create imperfect creatures — or else there would be no distinction between God and creation. (Think of Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover as a being of pure actuality — even though Augustine wouldn’t have known of that.)

3. From evil might come some greater good that we do not have the capacity to understand. We do a version of this all the time, right? I didn’t get that job I wanted — but then I got a better job. Thank goodness I didn’t get that first job, because that disappointment led to this opportunity.

4. Evil is not a creation, but a lack of something — something like how the lack of empathy in psychopaths is responsible, sometimes, for evil deeds.

I then gave you a handout outlining three theories that developed in what we’ll call the second half of the “Dark Ages.” All of these theories tried to use reason to prove the existence of God. And all of them are still with us. See me if you didn’t get the handout.

For Tuesday: please re-read the section on St. Thomas Aquinas in your book (should be just a recap), as well as the section on Boethius (pp. 74-75).

Book History: Today some of you finished up your book of hours. If you were absent or didn’t finish, plan to do so on Thursday. Otherwise, read The Gutenberg Revolution. Here is the book, if you lost your copy:

Gutenberg Rev Part 1

Gutenberg Rev Part 2

You need to have this read by next Thursday (4/7). I pushed it back one class meeting because the book of hours took an extra day. There will be an assessment.

Siren: April copy stuff.

Prompt: Notebooks were checked, had an in-class reading.

Survey: CNF: Sat in on Mr. DeFade’s Jazz Improv class. Talked about how to talk to people.

I have not yet set a due date for the biographical sketches, but it won’t be next week. Stay tuned.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you did an in-class table reading. No homework. See you next week.

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