In Honor Of The Feast Of St. Augustine

Let me just take a moment to express my profound hatred for Augustine, one of most loathsome influences in all of intellectual history.  If you’ve ever suffered nights of mental torture over a religiously inspired, disproportionate and overblown sense of your own utter worthlessness and sinfulness simply for being human, be sure to offer a curse or two to St. Augustine on this day of his remembrance.  His philosophy is vile misanthropy that has taught Christians far more about how to hate themselves than how to improve themselves.   He formulated the morally horrific notion of original sin, whereby we could be justly condemned for another person’s sin and according to which the motives of infants could be interpreted as evil.  And for the scientists in the audience, wait until you hear how he condemns the curiosity that would try to have an unmediated grasp of the cosmos as the impudent desire for what belongs only to God:

Legitimate knowledge can only derive from God, the origin and source of all skills and sciences, and should not try to found itself on unmediated, as it were, unauthorized inspection of the cosmos.  The pseudowise men of Egypt stand for the dishonest and unjust claim to have seen ‘directly’: Their theories about the cosmos rest on the eyewitness claim to truth, since they presume to know the grounds of everything, ‘as if they had been present at the origin of the cosmos or had even helped the world’s master builder with advice in his work.’  God’s sovereign right to the secret of his Creation, which is communicated by Him alone on the condition of knowing and acknowledging His authorship, is one of the enduring themes that were to enter in the curiositas complex.

See Hans Blumenberg’s The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, pg. 285 for that quote and also Part III, chapter 5, entitled “Curiosity is Enrolled in the Catalog of Vices” (pp. 309-323) for extended discussion of the origins and nature of Augustine’s mistrust of curiosity.

Finally, anyone who could write something as inhuman as this about the death of children, rather than surrender his bogus notions of a benevolent omnipotent God deserves no feast in his honor:

Since God achieves some good by correcting adults through the suffering and death of children who are dear to them, why shouldn’t those take place?  Once the suffering is past, it will be for the children as if they have never suffered.  And as for the adults for whose sake they suffered, either they will be better, having learned from temporal adversities to choose an upright life, or they will have no excuse to avert their punishment in the world to come, since they refused to let the anguish of this life turn their desire toward eternal life. (On Free Choice of the Will, pg. 116-117)

And if you hold the suffering of animals against God, well how dare you, you’re a “mere windbag” who does not understand that

If it were not for the suffering of beasts, we would not see how great is the desire for unity in the lower animals, and so we would be less mindful than we ought to be that all things were created by the supreme, sublime, and ineffable unity of the Creator. (On Free Choice of the Will, pg. 118)

Got that?  God makes animals suffer so you’ll see just how much they want to live with their bodies intact and that will teach you that God is a unity.  And if you don’t get the importance of that deep lesson and why it justifies a world saturated with natural miseries, well, then you’re just a fucking windbag.

Feast up, everybody.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://aeroslin.wordpress.com/ aeroslin

    He also uttered this vileness, ’There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn’

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