29 de setembro de 2011

Philosophical notes: Augustine.

Below is a list of the things I learned by reading the following books from Augustine: the city of God, Christian doctrine, the trinity, the true religion, the care due to the dead, consecrated virginity, confessions, confessions, against academics: dialogue in three books, dialogue on happiness, the “excidio vrbis” and other sermons on the fall of Rome, free will, thinkers: St. Augustine and soliloquies and happy life.

  1. Matter is not enough to explain the reality of living things.
  2. Those who have virtue and happiness need nothing else.
  3. People pay attention to what pleases them and not necessarily the truth, which makes vulgar religion more popular than science.
  4. Sometimes you should stay where you are, even if you’re being chased.
  5. Every people has the ruler they deserve.
  6. There are functions more necessary than political functions, but they do not receive the same glory.
  7. There are people not worth arguing with.
  8. Wage war on the inner evils of your nation, not on other nations.
  9. Don’t trust your protection to those who have been defeated before.
  10. There is no glory in improving a nation’s condition through war, for the best people is the one who thrives even in peace.
  11. It doesn’t matter what you suffer, but how you suffer.
  12. One should not commit a serious sin, such as suicide (which is a homicide), to avoid committing a sin of lesser severity.
  13. Don’t humiliate yourself in front of people you wouldn’t imitate.
  14. Land does not become fertile with worship, but with fertilization.
  15. No wise man wants more money than is necessary to live happily.
  16. The growth of the nation is only fair without war, because war, with appropriation as a goal, is a robbery.
  17. Evil does not exist in fact, but it is the absence of good.
  18. When a republic fails, the people seek scapegoats, to get rid of their own share of guilt for the destruction of the republic.
  19. If things go wrong, one must seek the concrete causes of evil, rather than seeking supernatural causes.
  20. Times of peace, because of lack of fear, provide a generation of unworthy men.
  21. A good body does not necessarily accompany a good soul.
  22. A Christian should not worship the dead or offer them sacrifices.
  23. A government that believes in the existence of “good lies” becomes particularly dangerous by allying itself with the local religion.
  24. A government without justice is a criminal faction that seeks impunity in power.
  25. A nation that does not worship God can expand and grow, with God’s permission, if it is still a good nation.
  26. A republic can collapse even if all its cities remain standing.
  27. The lie told in a pleasurable, clear and convincing way is more easily accepted than a truth spoken in a boring, difficult and unpleasant way.
  28. The mission of those who speak is threefold: to instruct (by the just presentation of truth), to please (by the pleasurable use of words) and to convince (by the usefulness of what is said).
  29. The truth must be accepted wherever it is found.
  30. The truth must be understandable, appreciable and convincing.
  31. Some people have a talent for interpreting a text, but this talent is not universal, so there are people who need to learn how to interpret a text.
  32. There are two arts related to the text: interpretation (understanding what is written) and the exhibition (explaining to other people what is written).
  33. No one’s perfect.
  34. Love for others obeys the criterion of… closeness!
  35. The style should change along the text as needed.
  36. The fact that the Holy Bible sometimes manifests itself literally and sometimes metaphorically is exploited by those who use it to justify their hatred.
  37. A man doesn’t create truths, but he only discovers them.
  38. If you’re going to write a book, make sure it’s not going to be boring.
  39. If you do not know the original language in which a work was written, your best bet is to compare the different translations of the text, instead of choosing a single translation only, if what you want is to approach the original meaning of the text.
  40. Whenever necessary, use other knowledge you have, including philosophy, science and common sense, to interpret a text you are reading.
  41. The search for the common good includes the individual good, but the search for the individual good does not include the common good.
  42. Science is more useful the closer it is to us.
  43. The child is so impressed by the senses that it seems that she only wants what gives her physical pleasure and only rejects what causes her physical pain.
  44. Faith seeks, but it is intelligence that finds it.
  45. When describing the supernatural, words falter.
  46. Not only the man, but also the boy has memory, intelligence and will.
  47. Love ratifies faith.
  48. The study of something is conditioned by love and rejection.
  49. The fact that someone has already written about a particular subject does not imply that you can’t write about it, especially if you can write more thoroughly, correctly or simply.
  50. The text given to the unbeliever is different from the text given to the neophyte and the text given to the neophyte is not the text given to the long-time initiate.
  51. When someone proves you wrong, please be humble and accept the correction.
  52. The more you know, the more you want to know.
  53. Those who love the truth do not fear being criticized.
  54. Those who love want the loved one to become a better person.
  55. Retaining something in memory requires paying attention.
  56. If God is love, those who do not love do not know God.
  57. If you do what Jesus commanded, God will like you.
  58. If you’re not able to get what you want, at least try to want just what you can have, so you don’t add despair to frustration.
  59. You don’t have to agree with everything that’s written in a book.
  60. If prayers for the dead are useful, such utility should be limited only to those who died with a positive balance.
  61. Neither the good man loses anything by not having his body buried, nor does the bad man gain anything upon receiving burial.
  62. When we dream of a living person, there is no reason to believe that it is the person in fact who is manifesting himself to us in dreams, which means that there is no reason to believe that it is the person in fact who is manifesting himself to us when we see in a dream a person who has already died.
  63. If what matters to the man who dies are his actions in life, it follows that burial and funeral honors are more a consolation to the living (in the form of a memorial, for example) than a form to send help to the dead man in the afterlife.
  64. Continence is peace and struggle.
  65. Unless you are a Christian and feel uncomfortable with your sexual desire, it is not worth marrying (because the Christian can only have sex with his spouse).
  66. Unless you’re religious, virginity has no value.
  67. Abstinence in excess can harm the health.
  68. When deciding to abstain from sex, the child may not want to notify this decision to the parents for fear of disappointing them.
  69. When the impossible is ordered, go as far as you can.
  70. Getting married divides a man’s heart.
  71. With the decline of religion, the value of virginity also declines.
  72. God also looks at your good deeds, not just your flaws, since no one is perfect.
  73. Although the virgin should not feel superior to the married, it is necessary to accept that the natural family has little importance in Christianity.
  74. There are several secular reasons for not getting married.
  75. Better to escape temptation than to face it.
  76. Even if all the righteous are resurrected, some will rise to a better condition than others.
  77. Even if you were able to be holy, you should not be proud of it, for lack of humility is a sin.
  78. It is not possible to reconcile holiness and pride.
  79. In Christianity, virginity is recommended, but not necessary.
  80. Love enables the forgiveness of sins.
  81. Sexual instinct is neither the most important nor the deepest human tendency, because the instinct of self-preservation comes first.
  82. If no one is perfect, for there is no man who does not sin, it follows that everyone should be humble, instead of some finding themselves better than others.
  83. It is only possible to moderate and manage emotions and feelings, but not totally fully suppress them.
  84. The joy of the drunk who bought his drink with clean money is better than the joy of the corrupt sober.
  85. Memory retains information about things that reach the spirit, even if they did not get there through the senses.
  86. The woman makes it difficult for a man to contemplate God.
  87. Words are signs of the things that they mean, not the things that are meant by them.
  88. As adults place great value on useless stuff, it turns out that a lot of useless stuff is taught in school.
  89. Two interpretations for the same text may be both correct, being complementary.
  90. It is more difficult to moderate food than to moderate sex.
  91. It’s easier to love a quiet person.
  92. It is possible to communicate ideas without the use of words, using other signals or showing the very thing whose idea we want to communicate.
  93. Instead of feeding strife among men, you should calm them down.
  94. Better to be mocked for the truth than praised for lying.
  95. No child is innocent.
  96. Knowledge of things is superior to knowing the words used to mean them, among other things because the person who uses the word is not always honest or knows what is being said.
  97. Past and future have no objective existence, but only subjective, as memory and hope.
  98. When there are two distinct but equally plausible interpretations of the Mosaic law, one must give preference to the interpretation that best achieves the goal of charity, for love of God and love for others are the goal of the entire law.
  99. When an intelligent person starts the study of false things, you don’t have to correct them.
  100. Those who fall into the hands of a bad doctor, start to avoid all doctors, including the good ones, for fear of repeating the trauma.
  101. Just as the doctor tolerates unruly patients, we too have to tolerate those who hear the truth and revolt against it.
  102. One of the forces that makes many convert to religion is the lack of meaning in life.
  103. A theory does not increase its value if it is exposed in a more beautiful way.
  104. The human condition is such that we feel urges to do evil things without sufficient reason.
  105. A lie can kill.
  106. When debating, don’t defend something that you have doubts about, nor attack something you don’t understand.
  107. It’s possible to love someone who’s done what you disprove.
  108. It is necessary to educate children thinking about their adult life.
  109. It is necessary to have tolerance with different interpretations of a given text, if it is not possible to ask directly the author of the text what he meant.
  110. There are people who only believe what you say if such a thing is also said by an authority.
  111. Asking questions is also good for teaching.
  112. Great joys follow great pains.
  113. Do not accuse anyone without evidence and never believe the accusation made without evidence.
  114. Don’t love a man as if he was immortal.
  115. No human government lasts forever.
  116. Food should be used as a remedy against hunger and not as a source of free pleasure.
  117. The desire for dominion that the child has must be repressed, but one must never laugh at the punishment imposed on the child.
  118. The man imitates the one he loves.
  119. Evil is not a substance, but lack of substance.
  120. When we hear a word, our attention turns to the meaning we have of it… which can cause a misunderstanding.
  121. Bragging about humility itself is pride, therefore lack of humility.
  122. It’s okay to use inaccurate words, as long as they convey correctly the idea you want to convey.
  123. You can’t say something’s wrong just because you don’t understand it.
  124. The doubt leads to not approving or rejecting, which can have particularly serious consequences on the field of law.
  125. The possession of truth, even when it does not bring happiness immediately, is useful to life.
  126. Believing that truth can not be attained causes inaction.
  127. There are truths you can’t doubt of.
  128. There is nothing wrong with a person pursuing a goal having little chance of achieving it.
  129. If you take advantage of an action, such an action was not in vain.
  130. It is one thing to know intuitively that a person is wrong; another, totally different, thing is to be able to prove that person wrong.
  131. It’s safer to trust a teacher than a commander.
  132. You have to be wise to be happy.
  133. You can’t be happy being stupid.
  134. To be happy, you need to have what you want, as long as such a thing is good, and you have to not fear losing such thing.
  135. The nation is not the country (territory), but the people.
  136. The nation doesn’t die if citizens don’t die.
  137. The questions of the faithful themselves are as important as the objections of the infidels.
  138. To tell a people that their nation will have no end is to lie to that people.
  139. It’s natural to not want to do what’s right, but it’s wrong to refuse doing what’s right.
  140. There is much to talk, in many ways, about the fall of Rome.
  141. There’s a bright side to suffering.
  142. Nothing of a human nature lasts forever: not civilizations nor man himself.
  143. It’s not a sin to be rich.
  144. Don’t promise something you can’t keep.
  145. Don’t cling to what can change, disappear or die.
  146. Do not take a warning as a cause for concern, but as a cause for prevention.
  147. Suffering is an opportunity for self-improvement if you have humility, patience, charity, and hope.
  148. Thinking about the present suffering is not as important as thinking about the present actions.
  149. When someone criticizes your position about something, show that person examples of nations that have adopted your position and thrive.
  150. If you love something, don’t act against the interests of what you love.
  151. If you say you are a Christian, you should learn from the rich and Lazarus.
  152. Human law, unlike divine law, changes with circumstances, which does not mean that the law as it was before is necessarily unfair, but that the new law is better in the present circumstances.
  153. Human freedom consists of choosing from the available options.
  154. The motivation of the suicidal is the desire for tranquility.
  155. The punishment due to evildoers must aim at the order of nature.
  156. The truth cannot be patented, because it is accessible to everyone who makes use of reason.
  157. By suffering the consequences of your voluntary acts, you can only complain about yourself.
  158. If a person misuses a gift, the person should be held accountable, not the gift.
  159. Although sensory knowledge is personal, rational knowledge, such as mathematics and logic, are universal and participate in wisdom, so that the philosopher who is ignorant in mathematics has much lower quality than the philosopher who makes use of mathematics when possible.
  160. It’s not public disapproval that makes something bad.
  161. There is no sin if there is no free will, for a man is responsible only for his voluntary acts.
  162. Evil in a moral sense is a consequence of our choices.
  163. Our senses are of a personal nature, as are the sensations that come to us through them.
  164. Predicting that someone will do something bad is not the same as making that person act evily.
  165. A thing isn’t bad just because it can be used the wrong way.
  166. An order from the state should only be treated as law if it is fair.
  167. Astrology doesn’t work.
  168. Charity has community value.
  169. The criticisms of the enemies are worthy of evaluation.
  170. Emotions and feelings lose strength over time.
  171. Even our philosophy is oriented to our happiness.
  172. The sage has more necessary knowledge than others.
  173. Even without receiving worship, God is still God.
  174. Marriage gets in the way of the intellectual.
  175. The sign is not the thing, the thing is not the sign.
  176. Time is continuous and its division into past (memory), present (attention) and future (expectation) is psychological, since past and future do not exist objectively by their very nature.
  177. Harmless mistakes are tolerable.
  178. To communicate our thinking, it is necessary not only to express ourselves well, but also that the person who hears what we say hears us clearly and understands the words spoken.
  179. When the person changes, he also changes his judgment from his past experiences.
  180. When in doubt, believe what is most useful.
  181. Knowing what to do doesn’t give you the strength to do what’s right.
  182. If something was allowed before, one should not call unjust those who practiced what is forbidden now.
  183. If faith is believing in something without proof, then everyone has faith, for no one can say for sure what happened in their own life when one was still a newborn.
  184. Worrying too much about the lives of others is a sign of carelessness towards one’s own life.
  185. If you want to find, don’t stop looking; if you want to get it, don’t stop trying.
  186. Everything that exists depends on God.
  187. A seemingly small issue can prove extremely important when analyzed.
  188. The worst poverty is the lack of wisdom.
  189. Married life is an obstacle to male potential.
  190. It’s possible to be happy.
  191. You have to be alive to think and exist to live (I think, then I exist).
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