Augustine's Confessions: Free Will

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Kevin Lee HUMN111 Mr.Dipietro Question 1- Free Will In the Confessions, one of Augustine’s favorite topics is free will. He has written many papers on this topic along with the sections in Confessions. After Augustine turns away from Manichaeism, his main argument in discrediting it is the apparent lack of free will associated with the evil counter-god that Manicheans believe in. It is a distinct possibility that Augustine’s obsession with the issue of free will stemmed from his digression from Manichaeism before his conversion to Catholicism in 386. His skeptic attitude towards most theological ideas also explains his in depth evaluation of free will, even after he converted. Devoting himself fully to Christian doctrine,…show more content…
Their decision to turn away from God-despite living in paradise because of him- created the first evil and gave rise to original sin, something all humans are born with (According to Catholicism.) The misuse of free will in turning away from God leads to obsession to worldly objects such as money. It is important to note that Augustine does not believe money is evil, he believes obsession with money, and any other secular object for that matter, draws away from God and leads the soul to sin. With obsession, as is human nature, comes addiction. Augustine believed that addiction was excessively evil, and as well as being a sin, conflicted with the process of free will. If someone addicted to alcohol or gambling whishes to exercise their free will and stop drinking or betting they often times cannot. This is, in effect, taking away their God given free will. Addiction today is deemed “evil” and accepting a higher power is often a step in overcoming addiction, showing testament to Augustine’s belief that an absence of God is what caused evil. Furthermore, Augustine believed that any misuse of free will was also inherently evil, the good use of free will is often called good will by…show more content…
This seems almost opposite of what Christianity teaches today. According to predetermination, if Hitler’s soul was predetermined to be saved, none of his horrible actions would have any effect on his fate. This seems ridiculous, and I would have expected Augustine, a true skeptic, to see the holes in this belief. Despite this gaping hole in logic, I find myself agreeing with most of Augustine’s ideas, especially that of obsession and addiction. Often in the modern world, it is obsession and addiction that lead to the most horrible evils. This is especially true with the obsession for money and power. Millions have died in the last century alone because of an individual’s thirst for power. More recently, the addiction to money has ruined many lives and businesses. This is evident in the case of Bernie Madoff, who in a display of true evil scammed over 15,000 people out of life savings and investments for his own gain. In fact, almost anything taken to excess can result in evil, which is why Augustine promoted living moderately and humbly, and praised his mother for doing such. Augustine’s views on free will and human choice shaped the post-classical world and effects us today. His opinions on good and evil are still relevant, over 1500 years later. Augustine was also one of the first people to give an introspective view on himself-and publish it. For this he will
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