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The Theological Epistemology of Augustine's De Trinitate$
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Luigi Gioia

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553464

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553464.001.0001

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Knowledge and its Paradoxes

Knowledge and its Paradoxes

(p.190) 9 Knowledge and its Paradoxes
The Theological Epistemology of Augustine's De Trinitate

Luigi Gioia

Oxford University Press

From the vantage point of love, Augustine detects and powerfully describes the epistemological consequences of human sinfulness, thus unmasking the fundamental deficiency of received theories of knowledge. Any pretension to independent philosophical enterprise—‘philosophizing without Christ’—overlooks the crucial condition of knowledge: love. Knowledge is either impaired by covetousness or freed by God's given love. There is no distinction, for Augustine, between natural and supernatural levels of knowledge, no possibility for a reason of carving out a field where it could fulfil its role autonomously. His epistemology rests on the impossibility of neutrality for the will, neither turning itself towards God nor averting itself from him, but simply ignoring both options. Charity stands in the end as the only condition for an harmonious cognitive life. Only love restores knowledge and enables philosophers to yield to the injunction which resumes philosophical enterprise as a whole, namely ‘Know thyself’.

Keywords:   epistemological, sinfulness, knowledge, philosophical, knowledge, covetousness, natural, supernatural, neutrality, charity, love

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