Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Introduction to Augustine

Fordham Univesity

School of Graduate Arts and Sciences

Introduction to Augustine
Spring 2015
Christopher M. Cullen, S.J.
Class Hours: Thursday 2.30-4.30 p.m.
Office: Lowenstein 923A
Office Hours: Fridays, TBA (Rose Hill)
Office Phone: 212-636-7926
Course Description

At the age of nineteen a young man living in Roman north Africa discovered philosophy. The world has never been the same since. While the world of the late Roman Empire—a world known for its decadence and brutality—teetered on the brink of collapse all about him, this teenager gave himself wholeheartedly to the pursuit of wisdom; he developed into one of greatest philosophical geniuses of all time—a genius who did more to shape the thought and culture of the next millennium of history than perhaps any other single individual. This course is a survey of the philosophy of this singularly influential intellectual—Augustine of Hippo.        

The course will begin by examining the philosophical currents that shaped Augustine, above all, Neo-platonism and Plotinus. We will then examine certain early works of Augustine, before entering into the details of his life, from his tumultuous and lurid youth in the streets of Carthage to his deathbed where he lay dying while the barbarians were literally at the gates. The course will discuss his intellectual struggle with Gnostic Manicheanism and skepticism. The course will follow Augustine on his inner journey into the depths of the human soul, especially in the Confessions. In addition to his teachings on being and truth, the course will examine his philosophy of education and his history-making intervention in the centuries-long battle between Socrates and the Sophists. 

            The last section of the course will focus on Augustine’s ethical and political ideas. Particular attention will be given to those seminal doctrines that have had a pervasive influence, such as his teachings on society, the political order, war, and history. 

Primary (* books to be purchased)

*Augustine. Against the Academicians (Contra academicos). Translated by Peter King. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1995. [ISBN: 0-87220-212-7]


*_______. The City of God (De civitate Dei). Trans. by Henry Bettenson. New York: Penguin Classics, 1972. [ISBN: 0140448942]


*_______. Confessions (Confessiones). Translated by Henry Chadwick. Oxford World’s Classics. New York: Oxford University Press. 1992. [ISBN: 0192833723]


*_______. On Free Will (De libero arbitrio). Trans. by Thomas Williams. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1993. [ISBN: 0872201880]


*_______. On the Trinity Books 8-15(De Trinitate). Ed by Gareth B. Matthews. Trans. Stephen McKenna. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. [ISBN: 10521796652]


_______. On True Religion (De vera religione). In Augustine: Earlier Writings. Translated by John H.

S. Burleigh. The Library of Christian Classics: Ichthus Edition. Philadelphia: The Westminster

Press, 1953. [e-res]

*_______. The Teacher (De magistro). Trans. by Peter King. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1995. [ISBN: 0-87220-212-7)/(978-0-87220-212-2]


*Plotinus. The Enneads. Trans. by Stephen Mackenna. New York: Penguin Classics, 1991. [ISBN: 014044520X]


*Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo. Revised Edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. [ISBN: 0520227573]


Cochrane, Charles Norris. Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from

Augustus to Augustine. Revised Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1957.


Deane, Herbert. The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine. New York: Columbia University Press, 1963. [ISBN: 13: 978-0231085694]


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