(November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)
Roman Church Father
- Student of:
- Influenced by:
- Time Period: Historical Foundations
- Early education experiences at Madaura and Tagaste, where he learned from reading works by authors such as Cicero and Vergil.
- Studied rhetoric at Carthage, 370-373
- 373-388, teacher of rhetoric in Carthage, Milan and Rome
- 391-430, priest, later bishop of Hippo [now Annaba, Algeria]
Ideas and Contributions
Augustine developed the Christian principles of original sin, divine grace, and predestination. The theological aspects of both Catholic and Protestant theology are based Augustine’s ideas. His ideas also influenced the Reformation leaders John Calvin and Martin Luther, and philosophers Immanuel Kant and Blaise Pascal. His psychological ideas were first published in Confessions, one of the earliest great autobiographies.
His insightful descriptions of subjective events (e.g., the will, experienced freedom of the will, the self) begin the tradition of introspection and phenomenology in psychology. Augustine discussed the perception of time and concluded that time is an inner experience, i.e., it is psychological. He anticipated Descartes concerning the proof of self-existence: to doubt is to think, to think is to exist. (Zusne, p. 14)
Through the medieval period and the reintroduction of Aristotle’s ideas, Augustine’s thoughts on psychology were the only accepted ones. Augustine espoused Plato’s view that the soul is immaterial and immortal, and that the body is material and mortal. He believed that knowledge was obtained through self-awareness and not from sensory impressions. He thought of the mind as a unity with independent facilities (reason, memory, will and imagination) and originated what is now known as faculty psychology. (Zusne)
In his text “Confessions”, which contains several autobiographical passages, Augustine tackles such issues as family relations, memory, conversion, mysticism, the place of sexual renunciation in religion, time and eternity, and death.
Of his written works that have survived to this day include 113 books, more than 200 letters, and over 500 sermons. Among his most well known are:
- On Free Will (388-95)
- On Christian Doctrine (397)
- Confessions (ca. 406)
- The City of God (413-26)
- On Nature and Grace (415)
- The Retractions (428). A final verdict upon his earlier writings.
Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, (1993-1996). Augustine, St.
Zuzne, L. (1957). Names in the history of psychology. New York: John Wiley and Sons.