Augustine (354–430 CE) was a philosopher, religious thinker, prose writer, and historical figure of immense influence. As philosopher, he aruably introduced the notion of free will, developed a nuanced and influential conception of the mind, and changed how we think about such political matters as war and peace. As theologian, he framed the basic problems that any Christian thinker must face, and did so in a way that touches the concerns of all people, Christian or otherwise. As writer, he grappled frankly and directly with ordinary life, and so produced a wholly new style of literature. Augustine is, then, a strikingly modern figure through whom we gain intimate knowledge of life at the end of the Roman empire. Readings will include selections from some of Augustine's major works, as well as religious, philosophical, and literary texts that influenced him or that contrast revealingly with his work. We'll also watch some movies.
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