Augustine's Confessions Analysis

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Given our egocentric and appetitive nature, human beings inherently seek lifestyles that satisfy bodily desires. According to Saint Augustine’s Confessions, the importance of the encounter with the drunken beggar in Milan is to highlight that seeking bodily desires, a derivative of sin, inevitably constitutes desolation that can only be resolved through seeking God’s grace.
Boiling in a state of anxiety and unhappiness as a result of his materialistic desires, Augustine finds himself faced with yet another bodily desire to please others--delivering a eulogy to the emperor. Contemplating his misery as he passes the streets of Milan with his friends, his attention is captured by the glimpse of a drunken beggar. Laughing and joking, the beggar
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For Augustine this moment held much significance because of his internal conflict. Although he found “sweet pleasure” in his sinful ambitions, he knew that his “conversion” to God “without whom all things are nothing” was the only way that he “should be healed” from the “bitterness difficulties” he suffered (Book VI, p. 9). With his senses already heightened from the anxiety he felt before delivering the eulogy, this quick picture of a virtual peasant possessing all the qualities he, a sophisticated and fortunate man, dreaded reminded him of his internal division. Apparently, the pull towards righteousness was much stronger than the pull of earthly desire given its impact on Augustine. The reason for this story being included in the Confessions is to demonstrate that our egocentric and appetitive nature is the ruin of humanity. We all aspire to be cheerful but achieving happiness through pursuing bodily desires is impractical given its “painfully twisted and roundabout ways” (Book VI, p. 9). Moreover, what good is chasing “honours, money, marriage” if a person as low as a drunken beggar can establish that happiness effortlessly without worry? …show more content…
In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle proposed that moral virtue is the mean between two extremes. The two extremes are excess and deficiency which are vices that destroy virtue. For a person to successfully obtain virtue, he/she must aim towards the opposite extreme. Once established, virtue becomes a disposition to feel and act in accordance with achieving eudaimonia; happiness or human flourishing. Augustine and the drunken beggar represent two extremes. Augustine filled with the “burden of..unhappiness” and the drunken beggar “a carefree cheerfulness” (Book VI, p. 9). It was not until Augustine aimed towards the opposite extreme of preferring “to be merry” that he became virtuous and able to achieve eudaimonia (Book VI, p. 9). Augustine’s version of eudaimonia is freedom from the enslavement of sin through submitting to God’s grace. “You turned them out and entered to take their place...already my mind was free of “the biting cares” of place-seeking, of desire for gain, of wallowing in self-indulgence, of scratching the itch of lust” (Book IX, p. 1). Although he was free of the things that dragged his unhappiness and misery alongside his daily activities, the diction of God taking their place alludes to Augustine being enslaved to God’s grace. Some might argue that this sense of freedom is not truly free. However, the context

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