On Free Will – Augustine

Nov 7, 2019In this first of two sessions hosted by the C.S. Lewis Society of California, Dr. Graham H. Walker discusses the landmark book, “The City of God,” the highly influential work of Christian philosophy by Saint Augustine of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, 354-430 A.D.). Watch Part Two in this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC_Yz… First published in the first part of the 5th century A.D., this expansive theological work provided an articulate defense of Christianity against the claims that it led to the downfall of Rome in the years preceding its publication. It outlines a citizenship that goes beyond the worldly, the political, and the self-centered, instead focusing on a place where the inhabitants are devout, God-focused, and seeking grace. In examining history with a clear perception of good and evil, Augustine was in effect interpreting human actions in relation to eternity. He contrasts earthly and heavenly cities to great effect, in addition to inspecting pagan religions, Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, and the Bible. A monumental influence upon Augustine’s contemporaries, “The City of God” is today considered a seminal and foundational book of Christianity philosophy as the basis for Western Civilization itself. The book has established Augustine as one of the world’s most important thinkers and a central Church Father of the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox Churches. “The City of God” further continues to resonate widely with both Christians and non-Christians in discussing the ideas and institutions of liberty, law and justice, civic virtue and human well-being. This session focuses on the following sections of “The City of God:” • Book V: Chapters 9-20 (especially Ch. 12-13) (Political virtues of pagan Rome) • Book XI: Chapters 1, 4, 9-10, 16-18, 22-28 (Order of creation) • Book XII: Chapters 1-8, 25-27 (Nature and vice) • Book XIII: Chapters 1-5 (The fall of man) • Book XIV: Chapters 1, 3-7, 11-15, 28 (especially Chapters 11-15, 28) (Human nature, love, will, dynamics of human fallenness) Graham H. Walker is the Executive Director the Independent Institute. http://www.independen

Consolation of AntiquityMENU AND WIDGETS


In Book One of his composition on free will and human action, Augustine defines authority, and wisdom. According to Augustine, wisdom arises from an ordered soul operating in synthesis with the pursuit of virtue. Alternatively, authority he splits between temporal and eternal jurisdictions.


“The law of the people merely institutes penalties sufficient for keeping the peace among ignorant human beings, and only to the extent that their actions can be regulated by human government. But those other faults deserve other penalties that I think Wisdom alone can repeal.

“If a people is well-ordered and serious minded, and carefully watches over the common good, and everyone in it values private affairs less than the public interests, is it not right to enact a law that allows this people to choose their own magistrates to look after their interests – that is, the public interest?

“When reason, mind, or spirit controls the irrational impulses of the soul, a human being is ruled by the very thing that ought to rule according to the law that we have found to be eternal.

“For I reserve the term ‘wise’ for those whom truth demands should be called wise, those who have achieved peace by placing all inordinate desire under the control of the mind.

“What is a good will? It is a will by which we desire to live upright and honorable lives and to attain the highest wisdom.

*All excerpts have been taken from On Free Choice of the Will, Hackett Publishing Company.

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