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Chapter 6 - Philosophy and Kathartic Virtue

De quantitate animae

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2018

Erik Kenyon
Affiliation:
Rollins College, Florida
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Summary

Scriptural references in Augustine’s early dialogues are scarce. Yet by reading them in terms of ARP, we find them playing a key structural role. Augustine’s plausible conclusions invoke the “dual weight of reason and authority” (C. Acad.), Christ as “measure of the soul” (De beata v.) and “Unity” as first cause (De ord.). Taken together, these works present an extended meditation on Wisdom 11:20’s claim that God holds all things in “measure, number, weight.” They also exploring the Classical virtues of wisdom, moderation and justice. Sol. + De imm. an. completes the set using 1 Cor. 13:13’s “faith, hope, love” to structure an exploration of courage. I use De quantitate animae as a framework for understanding the place of virtue in these works. This slightly later dialogue presents the Platonist idea that virtues come in grades: civic, kathartic and contemplative. I argue that Augustine’s Cassiciacum dialogues present an exercise in kathartic virtue, as aporia and reflection “purify” characters’ minds, preparing them for the eventual contemplation of truth. This echoes C. Acad.’s presentation of Platonism as a mystery cult and shows the tight programmatic unity of these works.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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