I just happened to read this quotation from Patricia Churchland…

Studying the brain and thinking about how it works became a joyous obsession. Almost nothing about the brain, from tiny molecules shifting between neurons to the whole nervous system, failed to be fascinating. What is the me in all this—and, for that matter, the we in all this, my husband Paul and I wondered.

…at the exact same time as I was translating this one from Augustine, where he is trying to explain how we avoid the Delphic injunction to “Know Yourself”*

The mind sees some things intrinsically desirable (pulchra)  in that more excellent nature which is God: and while it should remain steadfast that it may enjoy them, it is turned away from him by wishing to appropriate those things to itself, and not to be like God by God but on its own. And so the self moves and slips down into what is less and less, which it thinks to be more and more; for it is neither sufficient for itself, nor is anything at all sufficient for it when it loses the one who alone suffices. In anxiety and distress it fixes itself too much on its own actions and upon the unquiet delights which it obtains through them. Thus,  it feels these things which it knows and loves so well cannot be held unless held fast with anxious care. And so it leaves off thinking of itself, in thinking this very self cannot be lost.

The strength of love is so great that the mind draws in to itself those things which it has long thought of with love. But these things are physical which it loved externally through the physical powers,  and yet it cannot carry those physical things themselves into its own incorporeal nature; therefore it assembles certain images of them, and thrusts into itself what it has made from itself.


*De Trinitate, X, p. 7 edited for length and readability.


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