According to Augustine’s philosophy every human being uses free will to make decisions. Saint Augustine was a very important personality in the development of Western Christianity. When Augustine converted to Christianity he developed a new approach to philosophy and theology. Augustine accommodated different perspectives in his theories and various methods to reach his conclusions. Augustine’s philosophy on various topics is vey ambiguous.
In the second book of Augustine regarding Free Choice of the Will, he argues with his friend Evodius. Their argument is about what it means to understand. At first, the two the two are discussing the origin of free will. Evodius explains that without free will there would be no sin. He wonders why God would give human beings free will. Antigone answers Evodius, he explains that if there is no wrong there would be no right. People would not know what is good and world would be chaotic. Evodius and Augustine discuss the existence of God and religion. In this discussion Augustine compares wisdom and numbers. The discussion talks about how people know that God exists or whether He even created anything in the world. This debate makes Evodius to doubt his faith in God. He wonders how people know what it means to completely understand something.
In the entire passage, Augustine discusses important things and lists them in priority. Augustine explains that the ability to understand is more important than what is alive. What is alive is then more important than what exists. He bases his argument on the fact that we can understand what exists and what is alive. Wisdom or understanding is hence the most important thing.
Augustine and Evodius also discuss the difference between the five senses and numbers. Everyone understands what our senses are but we don’t understand their universal use. A good example is how people have different reactions to the taste of food. However, people don’t have different reactions to numbers. Numbers are universally understood for what they are. Wisdom is relative among people. Everyone has a different view regarding an issue, especially controversial issues. There are hardly any disagreements concerning numbers. The understanding of numbers is linked to intelligence because it deals with facts. Wisdom is not always factual, it varies from person to person.
The message of the second book is to critically think about the meaning of understanding something. Augustine is alluding to the fact that wisdom is what one gets overall. The flawless ability to understand a concept or an idea is wisom. He wonders if the idea of wisdom is ever achievable. Numbers are easy to understand because they deal with facts. Once you understand the facts, one is able to understand mathematics. However, wisdom is not easily attained by appreciating the facts.
There are many different understandings of his philosophy because of its ambiguity. On free will, Saint Augustine argues that free will exists. Free will is the ability to make decisions without any duress. He argues that everything we do as human beings is due to our free will. Everybody who is free and not enslaved is able to make decisions and act on them. Doing good or evil is a choice that everyone has to make. According to Augustine’s philosophy, people should be responsible for their actions because they made those choices (Williams, 2003).
Augustine argues that those who are saved have been predetermined to be saved by the Almighty prior to birth. He also argues that good and evil are choices that people make. These two statements create a lot of ambiguity. This ambiguity is what has caused a great debate on what he means by free choice of will. Augustine strongly felt that man is able to choose a life of good will. However, he believed that God had a hand in the matter. For a person to be good, God must have chosen his soul for salvation. When a person makes a choice to be good but his soul is not chosen by God for salvation, the choice to be good has no relevance to his salvation. Augustine explained that God was responsible for all good. People who act in a wretched manner but have been chosen by God for salvation will still be saved regardless of their choices. This argument is important in spreading Christianity. When people convert to Christianity they are assured that their sins are forgiven.
Augustine is less ambiguous in his insistence that evil actions are as a result of free will. He also adds that God has no relationship with evil deeds. God is the creator of the earth and man. The Bible says that when God finished creation, everything he had created was good. This fact distances God from evil. It does not make sense for God to be related to evil actions because all His creations were good. God’s creations like human beings and angels have free will and the choice to do good or evil.
Saint Augustine’s philosophy is very cryptic and confusing. God gave His creations free will to make their own choices. God has no relationship with evil but takes all the credit for good. Even though people who perform good deeds have made choices for goodwill, God is still given credit. Augustine’s philosophy explains that peeople are to blame for the evil they do but God is the cause of the good actions that they do (Williams, 2003).
Augustine also argued that people have a low capability to act upon their own free will. This diminished ability is because of their passions and desires. He explained that a lot of evil was due to this inability to overcome one’s passions and desires. He explained that lust was an example of how people were unable to overcome their desires.
In his philosophy Augustine also compared wisdom and numbers. He pointed out that people prefer to be wise than to be intelligent, because it is easier to count than to be wise. Wisdom is having good sense and judgment. Intelligence is having the ability to learn, understand and think about things. The two words are almost synonymous but are different. Augustine makes sense because there are people who are smart but not wise. Augustine was trying to show that wisdom is superior to in intelligence. Augustine agreed with the Holy Bible that wisdom comes from God. Wisdom is learned over time and acquiring it depends on many factors. The mentors one depends on will affect the degree of wisdom. These mentors can be priests, parents, friends or teachers (Williams, 2003).
Wisdom and intelligence are often used hand in hand. There is a small difference between wisdom and intelligence. Wisdom is learned from making mistakes. Time is also involved in the acquisition of wisdom. The longer a person has lived the more mistakes they have made or have observed. These experiences enable people not to make the same mistakes. However, there are people who can be described as wise beyond their years. These are young people who are intelligent enough not to make mistakes that normal people make in similar circumstances. Intelligence is the sharing what one knows and listening with the purpose of being becoming wiser. Intelligence involves cognition and the active use of our minds to understand new ideas.
There are many arguments concerning the origin of intelligence and wisdom. Intelligence is acquired from the environment and can be innate. Unlike intelligence people can’t be born with the genetic predisposition to be wisdom. A popular explanation for the origin of wisdom is that it comes from experience, while intelligence is innate. The problem with this explanation is that people are not simply wise in proportion to their experience. This shows that other things contribute to wisdom. These may include an innate predisposition or a reflective disposition. Despite how wisdom and intelligence are acquired Augustine believed that wisdom is more valuable.