St Augustine - Philosophy and Faith with Francis Selman on Totus2us


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Fr Francis: "Memory was like a great treasure house in Augustine's view. One of the things we find in memory is ourselves - this is to be conscious of ourselves, when we do not forget ourselves. Thus memory came to have a second meaning in St Augustine: of self-consciousness. When I am conscious of things outside me, they are present to me, but when I am conscious of myself I am present to myself. Nothing is more present to the mind, St Augustine remarked, than the mind itself. Thus the mind knows itself. What did Augustine think that the mind knows about itself? That it is not material like the body, but immaterial. Here, I think Augustine gives 2 good reasons which retain all their relevance for today. First, as the mind knows it is distinct from the material things it thinks about, if it were air or fire .. it would think of air or fire in another way than it does about other matter, and so not with an imaginary fantasy. But we do not think of air or fire in another way, so the mind does not consist of anything material, it is immaterial. Second, the mind does not have parts like a body, it is not extended like material bodies. .. The mind consists of memory, understanding and will, but these are not 3 parts of the mind. The mind is all 3 of these indivisibly. Thus St Augustine could use the mind as an analogy for the Holy Trinity. .. The connection between the understanding and memory is the will. The will directs the mind to the memory, where images are stored, and also directs the attention of the mind to its objects of thought. We don't look outside ourselves to the ideas and forms as Plato did, but turn inwards to the memory." Visit for more.

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