Sunday, May 08, 2011

Augustine:  Criticism.

"If we condemn something, it is only because of some flaw that it has.  But we cannot condemn a flaw in something without thereby praising the nature in which the flaw is present. ..." - On Free Choice of the Will, Book III.

Some of this book echoes Aristotle's discussion of substance, form and accident.  What Augustine is claiming is that a flaw is only a flaw in that it causes an object to deviate from a perfect form.  To the degree we protest the flaw, we are likewise affirming the value of the form.  And as for those who complain that they will soon pass out of existence:

"Anyone who grieves that these things cease to be should pay attention to his own complaint, to see if it is just and proceeds from prudence.  For his very speech is woven together out of many syllables; one ceases to be, and the next takes its place.  If he were so fond of one syllable of his speech that he did not want it to cease to be and give place to the rest, we would think he was completely out of his mind.  So when it comes to things that pass out of existence because they were not granted existence for any longer, so that all things might be fulfilled in their own times, no one can rightly condemn this shortcoming."

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