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by Saint Augustine

Confessions Theme of Wisdom and Knowledge

Knowledge is to Augustine what cookies are to the Cookie Monster, except that knowledge doesn't give you love handles. Knowledge is the one thing Augustine cares about, even more than ambition, or fame, or wealth… maybe even more than sex, though we can't say that for sure. In fact, it seems like there would be very little driving Augustine toward Christianity were it not for the fact that he really, really wants to know the "right answer" of the universe. Yes, his quest for truth in the Confessions also drives him to dabble in obscure sects and philosophical texts. And in the end, he seems to do a complete 180 in his stance toward knowledge: he says that it's secondary to belief. Like most Christians, Augustine ends up going pretty wild for that faith stuff.

Questions About Wisdom and Knowledge

  1. Does Augustine make a distinction between wisdom and truth?
  2. What prompts Augustine's lifelong pursuit of wisdom? What does this impetus say about Augustine, or about his pursuit?
  3. How does Augustine's desire for wisdom eventually lead him to Christianity?
  4. How do the Manichees appeal to Augustine's desire for wisdom?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Augustine's search for knowledge is actually a search for spirituality.

Augustine's stance on what we can know, or how we can know, changes after his conversion.

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