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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 14, 2008

Medieval Philosophy

George Heffernan
Pages 73-86

Augustinian Skepticism in Augustine’s Confessions

The goal of this paper is to show that Augustine’s Confessions, understood “sub specie dubitationis”, constitute a substantive argument for the philosophical position that may be described as “Augustinian skepticism”. The point is that, according to Augustine’s conversion narrative, what human beings can know becomes thematic only within the horizon of what they must believe, and therefore a doxic attitude other than rationality plays the primary and ultimate role in their quest for answers to questions about the meaning of life and death. An explication of the text of the Confessions suggests that a failure to understand Augustinian skepticism makes it impossible to account for a long list of big philosophical topics in Augustine’s thought.

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