The Importance Of Saint Augustine's Confessions

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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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Because he was heavily accustomed to fulfilling societal expectations, Augustine feared to differ from the norm and accept what he could not make sense of at the time despite knowing that it was his gateway to happiness. “How unhappy it was! Your scalpel cut to the quick of the wound, so that I should leave all the ambitions and be converted to you, who are ‘above all things’” (Book VI, p. 9). Augustine’s unhappiness was obvious to him, he always knew the consequences of his action but could never access the severity of it nor could he envision freedom because it was so opposed to his current nature. “How unhappy I was, and how conscious you made me of my misery, on that day I was preparing to deliver a panegyric on the emperor! In the course of which I would tell numerous lies and for my mendacity would win the good opinion of people who knew it to be untrue” (Book VI, p. 9). Augustine’s daily life activities intertwined with sin. His means of attaining success was through telling lies and abstaining from the pull of righteousness, unlike the drunken beggar who acquired his temporary success “by wishing good luck to passers-by” (Book VI, p. 10). Nevertheless, seeing the drunken beggar allowed him to envision life without worries and ties to unhappiness …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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