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How Does Augustine Define Love?

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April 14, 2000

Seminar 021

How does Augustine define love?

Augustine states continuously that he was not yet in love, but was in love with love. This statement doesn't make sense to me. I don't believe that someone can be in love with something, if he or she doesn't understand what love is. "I was not yet in love, but I was in love with love, and from the very depth of my need hated myself for not more keenly feeling the need." (pg. 35) How can Augustine hate himself if he doesn't know what loves feel like? I think a lot of Augustine's statements about love are interesting. Augustine has some very good points about love, but he contradicts himself also. Is Augustine saying he wasn't in love or he doesn't understand love? Both of these statements make me wonder how can he be in love with love, if he isn't in love.

After stating this, Augustine continues to support his statement by talking about friendship. Is the friendship Augustine mentions lustful or sincerely about love? "Thus I polluted the stream of friendship with the filth of unclean desire and sullied its limpidity with the hell of lust." (pg. 35) Obviously Augustine is letting the idea of love turn straight to lust. He talks about unclean desires, but he says he wants to be clean and courtly. Maybe Augustine has the wrong idea about love. Love is when you care deeply about someone and will do anything for them. Thinking about sexual desires and physical attractions are defining lustful ideas. Is Augustine talking about different kinds of love?

Augustine states that he wants to be forgiven for the corruption of his soul so he can love God again. He also states whatever pleases you, you should love Him who created it. "If material things please you then praise God for them, but turn back your love upon Him who made them." (pg. 60) He continues this thought by saying we should love God for he created the world and without God we wouldn't be able to love anything in this world. He also states that God made the world and didn't leave. So is Augustine implying that if someone makes something and abandons it, that he or she shouldn't be loved?

I think Augustine is implying that only those who create something and stay around should be loved. I agree with Augustine about this. If God would of created the world and left, I would of thought he created the world by mistake. By sticking around or admitting to creating the world, I feel as if God is able and willing to deal with whatever circumstances that may come His way. Augustine tells sinners to return to their heart and abide to God. Is Augustine saying that God doesn't create evil? Or is he saying that sinners learn to love evil and evil takes over their hearts? If God created everything, didn't he create evil as well? I think God created the devil, who was banned from God's kingdom, and he began preaching against God's word. If God created the devil and the devil created evil, then God created evil. I don't think God directly created evil, but indirectly through the devil. God realized that evil isn't good so he made the devil exit his kingdom.

Augustine begins to talk about how his marriage was arranged. " Great effort was made to get me married. I proposed, the girl was promised

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