St Augustine and classical education Essay

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          Saint Augustine and Classical Education

     In Saint Augustine’s deeply personal work, Confessions, he shares the story of his life up to his eventual conversion to the Christian faith. His odyssey through life is, at times, one of bitter inner conflict between his intellect and faith. Augustine’s classical education had a profound affect on the way he viewed the world, and eventually had a major affect on the way he approached Christianity. He is definitely an “intellectual” Christian, and viewed many aspects of his faith from this perspective. Augustine’s attitude towards classical literature and thought was at times slightly self-contradictory. It
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In book five, Augustine spoke of this principle by comparing two men:

“A man who knows that he owns a tree and thanks you for the use he has of it, even though he does not know its exact height or the width of its spread, is better than another who measures it and counts all its branches, but neither owns it nor loves its Creator. In just the same way, a man who has faith in you has all the wealth of the world…” (V, 95)

It can be argued that his intellectual pursuits further complicated his conversion because he was tormented by certain philosophical questions that became obstacles to his ultimate goals. In his youth he was obsessed with counting all the branches, while never seeing the whole tree. At times Augustine asserted that his pursuit of worldly wisdom was in direct conflict with his journey towards God.

“What, then, was the value to me of my intelligence, which could take these subjects in its stride, and all those books, with their tangled problems, which I unraveled without the help of any human tutor, when in the doctrine of your love I was lost in the most hideous error and vast sacrilege?” (IV, 89)

Despite all of the negative aspects of his education on which Augustine focused, it is obvious that his schooling was an essential part of his character. Other than Christianity, his education was the most important
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