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Self-KnowledgeA History$
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Ursula Renz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190226411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190226411.001.0001

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Augustine on Self-Knowledge and Human Subjectivity

Augustine on Self-Knowledge and Human Subjectivity

(p.96) Chapter five Augustine on Self-Knowledge and Human Subjectivity

Johannes Brachtendorf

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Augustine’s understanding of the nature of self-knowledge within his theory of finite subjectivity. It examines the relation of self-knowledge and self-transcendence in his early Plotinian-influenced thinking and the development of his conception of the human mind on the model of the divine Trinity. It traces Augustine’s distinction in De Trinitate of three relational elements of the human mind that compose a trinitarian structure and his distinction of two levels of the human mind—one reflexive, the other prereflexive—where a trinitarian structure is found. By highlighting the distinction between the plane of discursive thinking (se cogitare) and the plane of intuitive self-awareness (se nosse), this chapter demonstrates that the more foundational, trinitarian-structured level of prereflexivity (se nosse) accounts for the unity of consciousness and the identity of the self, while the trinitarian structure on the level of reflexive thought (se cogitare) depends on moral and intellectual perfection.

Keywords:   Augustine, self-knowledge, Trinity, image of God, se cogitare, se nosse, identity, Plotinus

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