St Augustine Confessions Analysis

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In St. Augustine’s Confessions, the tension between knowledge of God and the habitual life, and by extension the struggle between continence and incontinence, are central to St. Augustine’s evolution as a faithful servant of God. These tensions are evident in several episodes of weeping throughout the text, as the true reason for his weeping stems from a disruption in the habitual life or from his inability to change his habits. St. Augustine’s weeping as a youth over the death of Dido, his weeping before his conversion, and his mourning of the death of his mother, Monica, all stem from the tensions between knowledge and habit, continence and incontinence, and help to illustrate St. Augustine’s development over time.
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Young Augustine weeps for the woman who dies for her love, as an older Augustine weeps over his complete ignorance and incontinence. Young Augustine is ignorant of the presence of God in his life, and is compelled not to weep for his own spiritual distance from God, but instead for a tragedy that, in the mind of the older Augustine, is incomparable to the tragedy of being without God. The older Augustine is compelled by his advanced knowledge of the Lord’s proximity to lament his previous lack of control over his habits, proclaiming “I had no love for you and ‘committed fornication against you’ (Ps. 72:27); and in my fornications, I heard all round me the cries ‘Well done, well done’ (Ps. 34:21; 39:16) … I abandoned you to pursue the lowest things of your creation.” (Conf. 16). This reveals that Young Augustine lives an entirely habitual life, never thinking of God or his importance, instead concerned with material and worldly concerns such as reputation and honor. This state of pure habit does not leave space for Young Augustine to have continence, and leaves him to act out his life according to passion and emotions.
The tension between habit and knowledge in this episode of weeping is not wholly contained in one person as it is in the following episodes, and is instead spread temporally from Younger Augustine to the older Augustine. There cannot be tension between a habitual
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