St. Augustine: Confessions (Book II and III)

Book II is the definition of concupiscence – the tendency toward evil, particularly love mistaken for lust (I cared for nothing but to love and be loved).  Afraid that innocence would be mistaken for cowardice and chastity for weakness.  Story of Augustine and friends staling pears from a neighbor’s tree – done for the sake of the crime itself.  Similarities between “forbidden tree” and the garden of Eden story.   

Book III – Interesting discussion of theater – paying to watch “unhappy plights” which cause emotions of sorrow and sadness over fiction.  Augustine describes individuals applauding the author more if they were pained during the show.  “Sorrow and tears can be enjoyable.”  Interesting lead up that Augustine was part of a sophist group called the “Wreckers” – similar to those youth who attempted to imitate Socrates (Apology).  Discussion about holding judgement on those who lived in the past – as we were not there, we cannot judge in hindsight.  

How can people of the past be considered moral if they did things that today are condemned as evil?

1. Augustine gives examples of Old Testament figures who offered animal sacrifices and practiced polygamy.

2. Augustine ponders the act of God commanding people to do unprecedented things.

Application to the biblical stories (why was X okay in that time and not now?)  Augustine reads Cicero (Hortensius) and is drawn to the content, which ultimately sparked an interest in his pursuit of wisdom.  When compared to the Bible he was disappointed in the Bible because it seemed inferior to Cicero.