Notes on Reading St. Augustine.

In proving for the immateriality of the soul, Augustine gives an argument which, if formalized, makes a jewel of a syllogism:

All the the truths in the mind depend on the mind, and presuppose its life.

Some truths in the mind are eternal.

So some eternal things depend on mind, and presuppose its life.

Said another way, the eternal life of the mind must go along with the eternal truth of its knowledge.

The syllogism is simply radiant, but for lovers of Logic, it is also a rare instance of a third figure AI syllogism. Remember its name? Datisti. If one makes the minor universal (which is easy to do) we have a rare sighting of darapti in the wild.

– Augustine defines music as the science of modulating well- and he defines “modulation” as the power of moving someone. Music then becomes the science of moving people well. It would be good to include some account of the matter here too- like a reference to sounds, say, but I don’t know exactly wha I woul add to the definition.


  1. James Newland said,

    January 31, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    St. Augustine’s proof may be radiant, but I don’t see that it’s necessarily true. Even if I grant that if there is an eternal truth, there must be an eternal mind to know it, it doesn’t follow that that mind is my mind. In other words, it doesn’t seem to be the case that only an eternal mind can know eternal truths–especially considering that my mind, even if it has no temporal end, had a beginning, whereas eternal things have neither beginning nor end.

  2. a thomist said,

    February 1, 2008 at 12:59 am

    St. Thomas says something like that too in another context, but he would not speak either in this instance or in any other against anything so far as Augustine said it. That is the difference between St. Thomas and us, I suppose.

    The proof might be objectionable, but it’s on the right track, and I think it can be easily fixed- for the changeless or eternal charater of the truths in our mind does point to its existence as separate from matter and motion. Also, the proof as it stands is still it is a wondeful proof for something- to prove the existence of some eternal mind, is certainly a wonderful conclusion.

  3. Peter said,

    February 1, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Certain Thomists have upheld the proof from Eternal Verities, which is rooted in this kind of thinking. Very radiant, indeed.

    I seem to remember the American Catholic thinker, Orestes Brownson, arguing something very, very similar. You might find it in one of his long-winded essays; probably this one:

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