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by Saint Augustine

Confessions Truth Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Book.Section.Paragraph)

Quote #1

Yet "Truth and truth alone" was the motto which they repeated to me again and again, although the truth was nowhere to be found in them. All that they said was false, both what they said about you, who truly are the Truth, and what they said about this world and its first principles, which were your creation. (III.6.1)

Some pronoun clarification: "they" are the Manichees and "you" is God. In fact, this is the very first we hear of the Manichees in the Confessions, considering how important they are in Augustine's development. Augustine sees the Manichees as people who lay claim to a false truth. And that's a pretty dangerous sign, because it means that any shmuck can claim truths. Now, logically, we might say "But why should we believe Augustine's truth? Why is his truth any more real than what the Manichees believe?" Well, dear readers, this little conundrum isn't lost on Augustine either, which is why he is so intent on showing why the logic behind Christian notions of God, good and evil, free will, and the creation are foolproof. Oh, and we'd also like to draw your attention to the Manichees's motto: "Truth and truth alone." Now what do you make of that?

Quote #2

We can see from this that the soul is weak and helpless unless it clings to the firm rock of truth. Men give voice to their opinions, but they are only opinions, like so many puffs of wind that waft the soul hither and tither and make it veer and turn. (IV.14.5)

What is the difference between opinions and truth, according to Augustine? Okay, okay, the truth is firm. Like a rock. And opinions are like puffs of wind, we get it. But does that mean that opinions are never the same as the truth? And how do we distinguish between them, according to Augustine?

Quote #3

It was a fiction based on my own wretched state, not the firm foundation of your bliss. (IV.16.3)

So much likening of truth and rocks, right? Again, we come up against the problem of how to tell truth from fiction. Which is hard, because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In fact, the whole issue of truth seems to lie in defining the darn thing. How do we recognize it? Where do we find it? How do we not fall into fiction-traps?

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