Essay The Metaphysical One in Platonic and Augustinian Thoughts

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The legacy of Plato left its distinctive brand of influence on St. Augustine's beliefs and writings, of this there is no doubt. In Confessions, Augustine himself professed that it was the Platonic books that enabled him to attach himself to his God. However, it is evident that Augustine re-augmented much of the Platonic thoughts and, combining them with the early Christian doctrines, configured the hybrid into what became the foundation of Catholicism. The differences—as well as similarities—that exist between the two thought systems can be dissected from two points: the nature of the metaphysical supreme One and its relationships with the Many.

At the heart of Platonism is the concept of eidos, or Forms: the theory of an absolute and
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This concept is akin to the Hindu doctrine of Atman, the Cosmic Soul that is the ultimate Being; while Platonic material world is similar to the Hindu idea of Maya—the World of Illusions that is made by the materialization of the Invisible. The Platonic God remains formless, nameless, and utterly unfathomable. It can be seen as a unified collection of isolated eidos, much like how thousands of different colors are in the end dissolved into an eternal shade of gray. Or it can also be understood as the Form of Being. In a sense, this God is a mathematical concept: Infinity.

Centuries later, Augustine incorporated Plato's half-hidden pantheism into the foundation of the monotheistic Catholic Church. Though both metaphysical entities are the cause of physical existence, the Platonic One is passive while the Christian God of Augustine can be defined through his action of Creating. He is similar to the other entity in that He is immaterial, eternal, immutable, and unchangeable. He is the Word and the Will. However, whereas Plato's Universal Principle is a one-dimensional perfect Reality, Augustine's God is the spiritual substance—the formless Matter which is both everywhere and nowhere at once. The Creation is unified and contained, across all past, present, and future, in one single Creator. To God, there is
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