Saint Augustine and the Augustinian Tradition
The Saint Augustine Lecture 1959
The persistent influence of Saint Augustine's personality and teaching is familiar to all who interest themselves in the history of ideas as well as in the great cultural achievements of the human spirit. Like Plato, his celebrated predecessor and philosophic preceptor, Augustine and his teaching have experienced neither eclipse nor serious decline but have continued to enlighten the minds and warm the hearts of men of succeeding generations for over fifteen hundred years. And if Augustine was in some way the philosophical heir of Plato and of the entire Platonic tradition, it is a curious phenomenon in the history of the philosophy that the founder of the Academy owed his survival and popularity largely to the foremost Christian Platonist who was the undisputed and unrivaled Master of Western thought for nearly a thousand years. With the renowned Protestant theologian, Adolf von Hanack, we may still ask ourselves the question: "Where in all the history of the Western Church do we encounter a man whose influence is comparable to the influence of Saint Augustine?"
In 1954, the Christian world fittingly observed the sixteenth centenary of the birth of the great African Doctor of the Church. Eminent scholars representing numerous and diversified fields of learning took occasion of this happy event to pay rich tribute to the memory of this incomparable genius of Christendom. Happily, a considerable part of this recent literature devoted to the life, thought and influence of Augustine seems destined to become incorporated into that perennial monument of praise towering ever higher with the passing of years.
Manifold is that appeal which has won for Augustine such universal admiration. Many, too, are the titles by which his disciples have endeavored to represent the complex and incomprehensible personality of this great Saint. For many, Augustine is not only the link between antiquity and the modern world but also the synthesizing genius who succeeded in fusing the richest elements of a vast pagan culture with the priceless data of God's Revelation. For others, he is the philosopher par excellence, whose vision has anticipated the problems of modern philosophy and whose resourcefulness has pointed out the direction wherein alone is to be found their true and satisfying solution.
But it is under the yet more glorious title of Saint and Doctor that Augustine of Hippo is best known to the Christian world at large. This double title is reserved for that relatively small number of God's servants whose heroic virtue and extraordinary mastery of the true faith have aided notably in promoting the Kingdom of God on earth. As the word itself suggests, a "Doctor" is literally one who teaches, and even a casual acquaintance with the long, laborious life of our Saint is sufficient to show that it is Augustine the teacher that dominates throughout. It is easy to see why men of the Middle Ages knew him best as Augustinus Magister.
Aurelius Augustine has been hailed as "the first modern man," and if it be true that he "has more to give us than he has yet done," * the fault is not his, but ours. Through a benign disposition of Providence we are all heirs to the immense literary treasures of his wisdom and learning. And because his appeal is as universal as truth itself, we may well apply Augustine's epigram on truth to himself: Augustinus nec meus nec tuus, sed nostrum. Today, as always, he lives with us in those incomparable masterpieces of his own hand. To each of us they silently address the heavenly admonition: Tolle, lege.
In presenting each year The Saint Augustine Lecture under the general theme of "Saint Augustine and the Augustinian Tradition," Villanova University hopes to make a significant contribution of its own to the cause of Augustinian learning and scholarship. Eminent scholars from America and abroad are being engaged to present specialized and original contributions intended to explore ever more fully the vast and inexhaustible doctrine of Saint Augustine and to stress its pertinence to the problems of our own age. And finally, it has seemed most fitting that an institution of higher learning conducted by Religious of the Order of Saint Augustine should render this appropriate form of public homage to so great a Father and Founder.
The University has been fortunate in having Father Paul Henry, S.J., inaugurate its annual Saint Augustine Lecture. An outstanding authority in the fields of Platonic and Augustinian scholarship, Father Henry is eminently qualified to introduce a series of lectures devoted to Augustine and the Augustinian tradition. The present lecture entitled "Saint Augustine on Personality" offers a highly competent and stimulating account of the original insights of a great Doctor of the Church on a subject of vital interest and lasting importance.
Finally, on behalf of the Saint Augustine Lecture Committee, I wish to thank Dr. Donald A. Gallagher, Vice-Chairman of the Philosophy Department of the University, for his editorial assistance.
Villanova University Robert P. Russell, O.S.A.
Father Paul Henry was born and raised in the old university town of Louvain, Belgium, where his father and grandfather were professors before him. As a boy he lived in England for the duration of the First World War, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1923. Prior to ordination to the priesthood he studied philosophy and theology at Louvain (1927-1930 and 1933-1937). A specialist in theology and in classical studies, he achieved recognition early in his career as an authority on Plotinus. He holds the following degrees in classical studies: Licence ès Lettres from the Sorbonne (The University of Paris): the Diplome de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris; Docteur ès Lettres, Sorbonne, 1938. He is an "ancien élève" of l'Ecole du Louvre in Classical and Near Eastern art and archaeology. He pursued Arabic studies in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine in 1938-1939. He received an S.T.D. from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome and the Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Biblical Institute of Rome in 1941
In his teaching career, Father Henry has held regular posts, visiting professorships and lectureships which have taken him to numerous countries in three continents. Professor of Systematic Theology at the Theological College of Louvain from 1941 to 1945, he has continued to lecture there in Holy Scripture, and since 1945 he has been Professor of Theology at the Institut Catholique of Paris. He has held several visiting professorships in American Universities: he was Fulbright lecturer in Classics, Philosophy and Religion at the State University of Iowa in 1956; he was visiting lecturer in Philosophy at Fordham University in 1952, at the University of Pennsylvania in 1957, and at Duke University in 1959. In 1950 he held the Sir Philip Deneke Chair at Oxford; and he has lectured at the Universities of Heidelberg, Bonn, Munster and Kiel. He has held teaching assignments in England and has recently completed a lecture tour of South American universities.
Father Henry is the author of many books and has contributed numerous articles in classics and theology to learned journals. Among his books and studies may be mentioned the following: Plotin et l'Occident, Louvain, 1934 (couronné par l'Académie Française, Prix Bordin, Prix de l'Association des Etudes Grecques, Prix Theodore Reinach); Recherches sur Eusèbe et Plotin, Paris, 1935 (couronné par l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Prix Delalande); La Vision d'Ostie, Paris, 1938; Etudes Plotiniennes, I: Les Etats du texte de Plotin, 1938; Etudes Plotiniennes, II: Les Manuscrits des Enneades, 1948; Plotini Opera I: Enneades I-III (in collaboration with Dr. Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer) Paris, 1951; Plotini Opera II: Enneades IV-V, Paris, 1959.
AUGUSTINE ON PERSONALITY
In the history of thought and civilization, Saint Augustine appears to me to be the first thinker who brought into prominence and undertook an analysis of the philosophical and psychological concepts of person and personality. These ideas, so vital to contemporary man, shape not only Augustine's own doctrine on God but also his philosophy of man: man as an individual, man as a member of societies and institutions -- the family, the city, the state and the church.
I shall show that this doctrine of the person, though highly tentative and perhaps incomplete, serves to bring Augustine's creative genius and originality to the fore. Nowhere is he more impressive than in this area. I shall make the further point that this doctrine has been a decisive factor in fashioning the modern world. Indeed, it is precisely this which makes him belong to the world of today and of tomorrow.
I shall consider these points under four heads.
(I) First of all, I shall briefly explore the vacuum existing in Greek thought on man viewed as a personal being. I shall submit this position, not as a proven thesis, but rather as a hypothesis to be verified and corrected by others, a sort of Arbeitshypothese, as the Germans say, that no philosophy before Saint Augustine and none independent of him in his own time and in subsequent ages, has ever elaborated so satisfying a concept of personality. This conception touches the roots and fathoms the abysmal depths of the person as a creative dynamism and as an absolute worthy of love and devotion, so much so that, as Christians believe, to save man, Christ willed to become man, to die and to rise, that is, to live on as man, for the sake of man.
(II) Second, I shall try to show that in his philosophical expression of the doctrine of the person, Augustine turned not to the Platonic tradition but rather to the Aristotelian. Though decidedly a Platonist (his last recorded dying words were a quotation from the Enneads of Plotinus),1 he turned not to Plato, Plotinus or Porphyry -- which of these he read as a young man or studied in his maturity is, I think, completely irrelevant for so momentous a discovery -- but to Aristotle, the unbaptized Aristotle of those days, who was commonly denounced as a purveyor of heresy, as in contrast to Plato and his kind who were thought to be, even by Augustine, allies of Christianity, animae christianae naturaliter. Here we find one of the clearest instances of Augustine's independence of mind in the midst of contemporary and current modes of thought, and of a certain natural nonconformism, notwithstanding his sympathy and indebtedness toward those whom he may have deserted. Taken together with his originality, this is a clear instance, too, of his boldness and audacity, living proof that orthodoxy is linked, not with servile, but with creative thinking.
(III) Third, I shall try to show that the philosophical discovery of the person was due mainly, if not exclusively, to the pressure and challenge of the Christian revelation of the Godhead. Under this pressure, directed by Augustine's intuition and genius and by the related doctrine of the Incarnation, he was instrumental in substituting man for the world -- Psyche for Kosmos -- as the fundamental analogy whereby to understand and express, so far as possible, the inner life of God, and, as Saint Thomas was later to observe, even the doctrine of Creation. By this reflective thinking, theological in character, about the Divine Persons, Saint Augustine provided Western thought, and even the secularized Western thought of a later epoch, with a philosophy of the human person. With person and personality are linked, as we readily see, the doctrines of moral responsibility and freedom of the will.
(IV) Our fourth and last task will be to trace the continuance of the Augustinian doctrine of the Divine Persons as subsisting relations, in the official documents of the Catholic Church -- catholic not only formally but materially catholic, that is, universal or ecumenical, gathering into one single faith the Oriental Churches and the as yet undivided Western Church. We shall also see that today in helping us to analyze the concept of the human person in the philosophical terms of reference of present-day thought, Augustine remains a source of deep and boundless inspiration.
The Greeks had no word for "person," just as they had no word for "literature" as such; they had terms only for its various subdivisions, such as epic, drama, lyrical poetry, comedy and tragedy. Neither had they a word for "history," for in Greek istoria (historia) from which our term `history' is derived, signifies more accurately a minute and exact description of facts, concerning nature or man, than it does what we call history, that is, the linking of human events into a pattern. Nor did they have a distinct word for what we call `creation,' taken in its philosophical and religious sense. We know that the Greeks had no doctrine of creation, whether of eternal or temporal duration, since both for Plato and Aristotle and also the Stoics, matter was regarded as uncreated; the sole possible exception, as noted above, with some qualification, is Plotinus.2
Within the last decade, as you know, especially since the appearance of Oscar Cullmann's great book, Christ and Time, which resumes and enriches the magnificent essay by Laberthonnière on Greek Idealism and Christian Realism, scholars have agreed that the philosophy, or, as some would prefer to call it, the theology, of history, is a direct result or by-product of the Judaeo-Christian approach to man taken in his individual and collective history.3 In a recent work, Pierre Biard, inquiring into the conception of the Almightiness of God in the Bible as the core of history, has shown that the Jewish people arrived at the conception of an Almighty Creator through the concept of almightiness displayed in history.4 In other words, they linked the genesis of history with the doctrine of creation, envisaging creation as the first act of man's destiny and history. If I mention this at the outset, it is only because there is an intimate connection, entirely unknown to the Greeks, between the terms creativity, historicity and personality. In Augustine these are all linked in his synthesis of the relations of God and man.
In the well known Introduction to The Mystical Elements of Religion as Studied in St. Catherine of Genoa and Her Friends, Baron Friedrich von Hügel observes in his heavy but thought-laden style that in Aristotle, for instance, there is "a conflict between the general, which is alone supposed to be fully true, and the particular, which is alone supposed to be fully real. And we are thus left with an insufficient apprehension of the inexhaustibleness of all Reality, of its indefinite apprehensiveness, but ever inadequate apprehensiveness. And above all, both a cause and effect of all this, we find here only a slight and intermittent hold upon the one great fact and force of personality in both God and man."5
Along somewhat different lines, and in a more recent book, Augustine, Philosopher of Freedom, Mother Mary Clark writes, "to note that Aristotle did not give us an explicit notion of the meaning and grandeur of freedom is to recognize that he has not fully elaborated the notion of person although he faithfully describes some aspects of its functioning."6 Aristotle does, however, point to the fact that a person is an intellectual being, endowed with intelligence and will, but this does not sufficiently define person as Christians understand the term. In support of the view that the Greeks had no idea of person or of free will and responsibility, but only hinted at these, I could also quote the well known French philosopher and historian of philosophy, Victor Brochard, and doubtless many others.7
Consider for a moment the expression of the human person in Asiatic, Greek, and Christian medieval art. In the Ancient Near East, statues represent man essentially in terms of a function, either as a king or a warrior or a servant. They are depicted as men but primarily as functions. For the Greeks, man is essentially an Idea, a harmony of perfect proportions, a canon of beauty, around which they fashioned their architecture.
How striking, by contrast, the personality of the medieval statues found in the porches of our cathedrals. Peter is really Peter, and Paul is really Paul. They may hold either a key or a sword but each of them is a characteristic personality, possessed of spiritual depth and inexhaustible richness. The Roman portraitists, it is true, had prepared the way just as the Roman language had prepared the word persona, declaring it in law to be a subject of rights and duties. It would seem that the fullness, originality, creativity and unique self-expression of the person's being were unrecognized.
For me, the one Greek word that probably comes closest to expressing the idea of person is the little pronoun aut˙ogs -- he, he himself, in Latin ipse. I find no other word that approaches our notion of person. When the Christian Church had to find Greek words to refer to a Divine Person or to Divine Persons, it was necessary to borrow two terms from the reeks, and these the Church transposed and enriched in meaning. One of these, prosopon, is, literally, a mask to hide personality, though it was taken in the sense of a stereotyped or standardized role, and then elevated to designate a Divine Person. The other word, which is still, I believe, in usage by our Eastern brethren, for example in Russia, is hypostasis. The term represents anything which subsists, though etymologically it means the dregs of a cup.
Although the Nicaea-Constantinople Creed defined the full divinity and equality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it did not yet employ the word "person." If the term hypostasis (a subsistent individual) was used, it was still in 325 and 380 an absolute synonym for essence, or substance, or nature.8 In the New Testament, written in Greek, there is no distinct word for "person." I doubt that there is one in Hebrew though the relations of God and man are so personal that Jahweh, the Lord of History, appears to be endowed with human qualities, such as wrath, repentance and jealousy. These existential categories suggest or certainly mean something -- at least the I-Thou relationship -- and are difficult to combine and reconcile with Greek and philosophical reflective thinking on the Immutability of Him Whom the Bible calls the Living God.
I very much doubt that any philosophy -- left to its own devices -- would have developed a concept of man or personality, except it be in the Western Christian world or in one influenced by Christianity.
What is true of the most elaborate of philosophical traditions, the Greek, seems to be true also of the most elementary reflections of the human mind. Mircea Eliade, an expert on primitive religions, now teaching at the University of Chicago, has brought out in his treatise on comparative religion the implicit ontology, or shall we say, the metaphysics of the primitives. In the Traité d'Histoire des Religions, he writes as follows: "The distinction between personal and impersonal has no precise meaning in the archaic mental representation of the universe."9 In the final chapter, he makes this further observation: "The so called primitive man is much less occupied with the opposition between real, powerful, etc., and unreal," adding, "The same polarity not the personal- impersonal, but power and powerlessness is to be found in innumerable expressions of most highly developed religions and mysticisms."10
What, then, is Augustine's doctrine of the person and how does he express it philosophically? It is to be found mainly in the fifth book of his Treatise on the Holy Trinity (De Trinitate), in which he refutes the Arian denial of the full Divinity of Christ. The Arians argued as follows: God is substance only. In Him there are no accidents, or qualities; all that He is and can be is pure substance. We recognize at once the Aristotelian quality of the general premise. The argument continues: but the Father is Unbegotten (agenatos); the Son is Begotten (genatos), Begotten and unbegotten are clearly different. Therefore the Son is in His substance different from the Father in His substance. Consequently, they are not of the one substance and are therefore not consubstantial.11 Saint Augustine counters this argument with the profound remark that the fourth Aristotelian category, that of relation, is per se neither accident nor substance, but can be either, as the subject matter requires.12 In other words, relation transcends the categories and may be somehow called what the Schoolmen later termed a transcendental. The Father is related in His whole substance to the Son and stands in living relation to the Son, not by any accident but by the very depth of His Fatherly substance, if I may express it in this way. And as the Son is related to the Father, so, too, is the Holy Spirit related to Father and Son, united in One Divine Substance.
This leads Augustine to declare that a Divine Person is at one and the same time a) a Reality identical with Itself, existing in se, an Absolute, and b) also a Reality ad alium, essentially directed toward another and dynamically directed toward the others.13 Here we find all the elements for what Saint Thomas will call a relatio subsistens when, following wisely in the footsteps of Augustine, he gives more systematic expression to Augustine's earlier intuition.14 This subsistent relation is one identical with the Divine Nature, or Divine Substance, as Divine Essence. That is to say, the Divine existence or esse in God is a relation by identity and there is no other subsistence in God than that of the three Persons. God alone is really personal, not by His having intellect and will, for that is common to all three Persons, and, as attributes of the Divine Nature, does not distinguish them, but as being tri- Personal, constituting a network of subsisting relations. As Saint Anselm, and after him the Council of Florence, would express it by way of synthesizing Augustine's doctrine, in God all is oneness and identity except the opposition of mutual relations: viz.,that of Father and Son; that of Spiriting Principle (Principium Spirans), Father and Son united; and that of the Spirated Person (Persona Spirata), the Holy Spirit, proceeding from Them as the expression of their unity, just as the Son is the expression of the Source of Unity in God the Father, the Fountainhead of Deity.15
This means that God is the perfect, in fact, the only perfect prototype of that which all love between persons tends to achieve -- absolute unity and Yet distinction -- to be one with the other, not by losing one's identity but by perfecting it, even at the very source of one's being. That is why Divine existence is the ideal of all personal existence -- to be fully oneself, but only in dependence upon, and in adherence to, another in the communion of unity.
Let us briefly analyze the mechanism of this tremendous discovery of Augustine and find in it a source of inspiration.
First of all, there is complete understanding of the opponent's argument, even to the point of accepting his terms and acknowledging the validity of some of his statements; in this instance, that everything in God is identified with the Divine Nature, and that God is fully substance and only substance.
Secondly, Augustine borrows his central idea not from the philosophers of whom he was so enamored, nor from those who had inspired him or even led him partly toward the Christian faith. He does not borrow his central idea from Plato or Plotinus or Porphyry, his masters in philosophy, but from Aristotle,16 their opponent, and in most matters his opponent too, for Augustine remained, to the very end, a Platonist, not an Aristotelian. He analyzes with Aristotle the fourth category of Relation, borrowing not only from the Book of Categories but also from the Nichomachean Ethics. From Aristotle he takes the analysis of reciprocal and mutual relations, such as friend to friend, and father to son, and greatly improves upon it.
Thirdly, and this is highly significant, he completely transforms Aristotle's doctrine. No longer does he make of quality an accident, but takes it out of the categories, so to speak, thus raising it to a status where it becomes the very core of the person's subsistence.
The intellectual attitude that enabled Augustine to make this great discovery may be summarized in these three characteristics: sympathy, independence toward prevailing modes of thought (every worthwhile philosopher at that time was more or less a Platonist), and most important of all, creativity and originality. In this manner Augustine becomes the philosophic discoverer of what a person really is.
I come now to my third part. This philosophical discovery of the person came about, I think, owing to the pressure and challenge of the Christian paradoxical dogma of the consubstantiality of the Three Divine Persons which had been defined, though not explained, by the great Trinitarian Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in the fourth century.17 This pressure and challenge, indeed, operated upon Augustine's mind as a kind of des quaerens intellectum, faith in quest of understanding or rational explanation. In other words, it was in and with Augustine that the Western mind discovered the personality of man, constrained as it was by the necessity to explain, so far as this be possible, the Three Persons of God's Divine Nature. But this procedure, in turn, is bound up with something that possibly represents a greater philosophical and theological departure in the manner of approaching the problem of God.
Let me first take up this matter existentially. Here I would make a twofold observation, based upon that masterpiece, the Confessions, a book which Saint Teresa of Avila, great mystic and master of mystics, vigorous as she was, could not read without shedding tears.
The Confessions is probably the first autobiography in the history of literature. Try to imagine if you can -- I myself cannot do so -- a Saint Thomas writing his memoirs or autobiography. Augustine, interested in man, the self, personality, thereby invented a new literary genre, namely, a detailed account of a man's destiny, seen from within, of man's situation in the world, of his reaction to objects and persons and theoretical problems. All this is inextricably linked with a progress which, in the case of Augustine, is a conversation with God, and at its peak, possibly a mystical experience of God, such as took place at Ostia when mother and son -- not Augustine alone -- enjoyed for a brief moment on earth a foretaste of heavenly beatitude.18
If the Confessions is a book about man, and here a man of genius and destiny, it is also a book about God. As my friend Jacques Albert Cuttat once remarked to me at Columbia University, this is probably the only book about God, man and creation that is addressed to God and that is literally a prayer to Him. Nearly all major problems are examined there, theoretically and concretely, metaphysically and existentially, and always with explicit reference to God. And it is within such a reference that they find their solution whether it be person and destiny as dependent upon God, or God's action in the history of man and human destiny.
Let us return to a consideration of the Persons of the Holy Trinity and of the problem of personality. Before Augustine's time, the principal and in fact, practically the only analogy known for God's inner life, was the procession of the world or cosmos from God. For example, the procession of the Son from the Father was explained in terms of the procession of the world by the Fathers who preceded and who came after the Council of Nicaea, and even by the Cappadocians.19 This is why all pre-Nicaean scientific theology having to do with the Son, or Logos, was to a great extent "Subordinationist" in character, subordinating the Son to the Father, except where the Fathers merely repeated the teaching of the New Testament. Arius himself simply crystallized this tendency when he went on to declare that the Son is the greatest of creatures, the first creature, taking His place between all other creatures and God, the Creator. For this reason, the teaching of Arius was condemned at Nicaea.
From the time of the Nicaean Creed, and in all probability starting with the generation of theologians immediately preceding it, there was made the major discovery that "procreation" is not the same as "creation." As a hypothesis, I would suggest that this distinction was prompted by Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, whose Deacon was Athanasius
The former is an inner generation tireless by nature and proceeds from God's very substance. Hence the term "consubstantial," which means possessed of one and the same nature. The latter, that is, creation, comes about by God's free will and, according to Christian Revelation, in time or with time. Besides, creation begins with nonbeing, with the consequence that matter itself, though a limitation of being, is nonetheless created by God's Unlimited Being.
Throughout the entire history of thought no greater discovery has ever been made, I believe, than that of the distinction between "procreation" and "creation," perhaps even more far-reaching than that of the person itself. Here again, too, we find the doctrine of a free creation as distinct from and opposed to the notion of a natural process of "degraded becoming," such as we may easily visualize in the case of Plotinus, whose concept of emanation, however, came closest to the concept of creation.20
As I remarked at the outset, Plotinus seems to have held the view that prime matter itself is ultimately derived from the First Principle, though this derivation is after the manner of a degrading process and -- this is the principal difference -- by a necessary process that leaves no place for a God Who produces by intellect, will and love.
But Saint Augustine was to go a step further in this celebrated theory of generation, advanced by Plotinus. Augustine substituted man, mind and soul for the universe or cosmos as his fundamental analogy for furnishing some understanding of the inner life of God and consequently of the Divine Processions of the Son and Holy Spirit. In this way the inner life of man affords an analogy for the Divine Processions which is the reason why the second part of the treatise On the Trinity contains so many and such varied analogies. It is not the dogmatic section of the treatise from which I derived the doctrine of relations and of person as such, but rather the theological part, properly speaking. Among the more familiar analogies, I might mention the following: Amans, Amatus, Amor (the Lover, the Loved, and Love); mens, notitia, amor (mind, consciousness, love; also esse, intelligere, vivere (existence, understanding, life). There are others as well, possibly some fourteen in all, and most are taken from the inner psychology of man.21
How was Augustine able to go beyond the analogy of the world which his predecessors had adopted in their effort to understand God's inner life as far as man can understand Him? How did he come to substitute man for the cosmos as the fundamental analogy? Here, too, he drew his inspiration from the Biblical revelation of God, and, once more, in response to the pressure and the guidance afforded by this revelation about the nature of man, he was in a position to enrich his more fundamental discovery about the person. We read in the Book of Genesis that God created man according to His own image and likeness.22 This was Augustine's justification, as it is ours, for taking anthorpos, man, rather than Kosmos, the world, as the least inadequate analogy for understanding God's inner life and richness.
Even more essential is the fact that God became man and that the Son of Man became man's Brother. Since Revelation is a word, it is consequently a relation between the one speaking and expressing himself and the one who hears and receives this Revelation. Like all revelations, this also is made up of two terms, for the recipient must re-create in his own mind what iS said to him in order to be able to accept it. In Christ, Himself a man capable of supporting definitive and ultimate Revelation, God has disclosed His attributes and threefold personality. Thus, it is necessary that as God reveals Himself in Christ, Christ too, reveals man to man.
I cannot at this time go into the immediate and distant sources but, to be fair to a whole generation of thinkers in the Christian Church, I must say that others had already paved the way for Augustine. There was, for instance, a fellow African, Tertullian, who forged the Latin theological language for Augustine by his fine analysis of such terms as ratio (reason) and sermo (reason as expressed); hence the inner and outward expression of the self.23 One must also mention in this connection that profound but abstruse metaphysician, Marius Victorinus, the celebrated African rhetorician, so greatly admired by Saint Augustine, whose conversion to Christianity, as we read in the eighth book of the Confessions, was instrumental in Augustine's return to the Catholic faith. In his analysis of being as being, Victorinus proposed the triad of transcendentals, being, life and consciousness, of which Augustine makes use to explain, so far as he can, the Trinitarian life of God.24
Once again Augustine completely modifies this insight of his predecessors and goes on to construct, not one, but many psychological and human analogies to God's inner life. Therefore, in place of the cosmological expression for the Divine Processions, still more or less in vogue even among the Cappadocians, Augustine substitutes a psychological manner of expression, based on the depths of the human psyche, in terms of existing, knowing and loving itself. But what is sometimes forgotten is the fact brought out so well by the eminent Dominican, Father Gardeil, that for Augustine, the most perfect analogy for God's triune life is not man enclosed within himself, viz., memoria sui, intelligentia sui, voluntas sui, namely, memory, understanding and willing of oneself. It is man viewed as bound to God, viewed as proceeding from Him and constituted in his personality by a sort of fundamental and radical pre-awareness of God as the Source of his being, that is to say, memory, intellect, illumination and love of self -- identical with the ecstatic love of God.25 As Gabriel Marcel, the Existentialist, puts it, perhaps unconsciously following the Augustinian tradition, though not in Augustinian terms, the "I- Thou" relationship is valid only if it posits a Supreme God from Whom "I" and "Thou" derive their very being, depth and dynamism.26 In other words, the human person emerges as a person only insofar as it is created. The person has possibilities of self-expression and self-creation only insofar as it is dependent upon the absolute Creator, a personal God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, in whose image the created person is made but whose eternal and temporal Image is the Son of God made man.
We see, then, why one should link the doctrine of personality with that of relation -- I shall develop this point more fully -- just as we must link the philosophy or theology of history with the philosophy or theology of creation. History, creation and personality, and freedom of will as well, cannot be separated; they all belong together in Augustine, just as they all belong together in theoretic thinking.
Saint Augustine's doctrine of the person has had an incalculable influence on the development of the Christian idea of God and man and of the relations of man to God. Today we want to understand the doctrine of God as it was understood in the days of Richard of Saint Victor, Saint Thomas, and the great Council of Florence in 1439, when for one brief, wonderful, marvelous moment, East and West were more fully united around this doctrine before the Reformation had driven a deep cleavage in the oneness of Christ's mystical Body. We want to understand and realize God's love, not only toward us but in His very substance toward Himself, as it were, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We want to understand what man is in contact with his source, in his relation to God, of what the "memory" of pre-conceptual perception of his own being is. We want to understand what man is to man -- not a wolf, not homo homini lupus, but rather a being constituted as a person only insofar as he is related to other persons, in a kind of dialogue, in giving and taking, not, as the Greeks would have it enclosed as an object of nature like an ollov (atom) or individual, nor enclosed in himself by a solipsist cogito as all Idealists since the time of Descartes, unable to bridge the gap between a subject knowing and other subjects. I repeat, if we want to do all this, then we would do well to take up again the Confessions of this great Sinner and Saint, passionately in love with his fellow man, with Christ, and with God; as well as those two other greater masterpieces, On the Trinity, fifteen books dealing with the inner and immanent life of God, and The City of God, which treats of the "communion" between God and man, both here and in eternity.
Let me single out one doctrinal tenet on God as Triune which we ought to revive not only in the consciousness of specialists in theology but in all Christians. It is a tenet about man as a person that cities and nations and continents would do well to remember, and one from which they might draw inspiration in their treatment of man in law and in international affairs. In 675, a generation following the great Augustinian scholar, Isidore of Seville, when Spain was at the height of her theological ascendency, there was assembled into one council at Toledo a common gathering of theologians and laymen in charge of secular affairs both for Church and State. When these expressed their faith in God in a creed, they were content to summarize Augustine's doctrine of the Trinity and even that of the Incarnation in terms of "relations."27 They did not merely attribute equally to all Three Persons the same static attributes of Infinity, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and so on, as the pseudo-Athanasian Creed had done in describing God in Himself, but rather expressed this doctrine in terms of vital and dynamic relationships. For Augustine this had been a major point and one which he had regarded as essential for the refutation of Arianism that archheresy which denied the full divinity of Christ The members of this Council were close enough to Saint Augustine to know that for him the so-called psychological doctrine of the Trinity (there are many of these, not one), of the Son proceeding according to consciousness and of the Holy Spirit proceeding according to will and love were but images, analogies and pale reflections of the Divine Being. They knew that these were not essential to the dogmatic, authoritative expression of God's inner life, as some extreme Thomists might be led to believe.
We should not, it seems to me, impose upon our separated brethren, whether in the East or West, our private theology, however valid our arguments may be, but only that which, beyond all question, is divinely revealed Truth as infallibly defined by Ecumenical Councils or by ex cathedra teaching of the Popes or as contained in the catechetical teaching of Christian doctrine. Like Saint Augustine, we should distinguish what is essential and necessary reflexive expression of the essentials of our Faith from what is only a useful analogy and illustration. It is one of many possible and one that might conceivably be replaced today by some other analogy taken from the terms and mentality of contemporary thought and life.
The Fifteenth Council of Toledo, though Augustinian in character, did not stress one important point of doctrine discovered by Augustine to express the real truth of the Triune God and one that was later infallibly defined by two Ecumenical Councils, after Saint Thomas had fully explored this Augustinian insight. The Councils of Florence and Lyons insisted on the Filioque, and this because of the persistent influence of the lay-theologian Charlemagne who had caused with sword and pen such havoc among Christians.28 The doctrine of the Filioque is, of course, revealed; we recite it in our Nicaean Creed and Sunday Mass but we must stress the fact that it expresses only part of the truth, and we want to have all the essential teachings of our Faith. Augustine had stated the whole truth, viz., the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Son, but as the Greeks have it, He proceeds from the Father through the Son. Thus, according to Augustine, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son, as from one active Principle of procession, being the expression of the Unity of Father and Son; not as that which links Them as still distinct (nexus amoris, as it is often imperfectly stated), but as the expression of their unity -- tamquam ex uno principio -- as was infallibly defined in those two Councils where East and West were united, namely the Council of Lyons in 1274 29 and the Council of Florence in 1439.30
To me it seems that the Church during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance periods was able to define adequately and completely the doctrine of the Undivided and Triune God Whom it adores and loves, only when East and West met together, undivided. Perhaps in the next Ecumenical Council the intellectual charity and humility of the present Vicar of Christ who lied so many years in the East, will help all Christians to come together and restate, more fully than is now the case, the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit, God's inner and terminal expression of Love, just as the Father is its Primal Unity, and the Son its expression. It would be a simple matter to complete the Filioque by adding its necessary and infallibly defined complement -- tamquam ex uno principio, as from one principle, not two. Or, if the Church assembled in Council should prefer a less abstract expression of the same essential revealed truth, it could, as I see it, replace the mutilated Filioque by that wonderful expression of the Sixteenth Council of Toledo in 693, ex unione Patris et Filii, that is, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the union, from the unity, from the togetherness of Father and Son as from the one principle of its procession.31
As in theology, so too it is for all philosophers of today, be they Christians or non-Christians, Idealists or Realists, Metaphysicians, Empiricists or Existentialists, that Augustine can help to unravel the seemingly unfathomable mystery of man as a person. Idealists of all times, beginning with the self and the thinking subject have always encountered the greatest difficulty in transcending this enclosed and solitary monarch to reach out toward other selves. And Realists, too, cannot go far beyond the individual as a concrete reality, undivided in itself and distinct from everything else, the aTOlOV of the Greeks. It is true that in a later emendation of Boethius' celebrated definition of person the added term "incommunicability" indicated this characteristic trait of personality. The Sartrean Existentialists themselves in their analysis of l'homme en situation, man as situated in the world, tend to view other subjects as mere objects or things to be used -- rebus uti, non frui. This view culminates in Sartre's horrible remark that "L'enfer, c'est les autres," that is, others are a hell to me.32
In opposition to, and beyond all these doctrines, Augustine teaches us that the person, while being an absolute, absolute in se persona dicitur, is also and essentially a being ad alium, related to others, open to others, and defined as person by this very relativity. We are so by our very birth, not born alone but procreated by our parents, themselves created by God and linked together in a spiritual and physical love. Our very being is genetically constituted in a living relation to others, to our parents, to God. Augustine teaches us the fundamental truth that we are really persons only inasmuch as we recognize the full status of other persons as related to us; that personality is not egocentric but altruistic; that its natural movements and richness are not centripetal but centrifugal, that the more we are ourselves, not only as individuals but as persons, the more we exist with and for others and are drawn to others and others drawn to us. He teaches us that personality expresses itself in giving and receiving; in "communicability," rather than in "incommunicability," in sharing rather than in possessing, in togetherness and closeness rather than in proud isolationism, whether this be intellectual, cultural, economic or political. When we have learned these truths, then, and only then, shall we be able to build up between men, in law and in life, an I-Thou relationship transcending the I-It relationship of mere Subject and Object. We shall recognize in the "other," beyond all qualities and defects, beyond even his expressed needs, the unfathomable depths of his being and of his essence and of his very esse, existence, which springs from God's infinite Being. We shall come to see that which is unique in Him and yet is also ours by right because he wills to share it with us and we with him. This will hold true for art and physical pleasure, too. We shall understand that to be persons we have to accept and receive and not be content only to give, and that between persons the one is just as indispensable as the other.33
All Christians have, as indeed Augustine had, one supreme Model and Example of this personal situation in the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. His Divine Person proceeds completely from the Father, and all that He is, has and does, comes to Him from the Father. He is truly the Son, the Person Who is what He is in virtue of what He has received exclusively from the Father.
In His human nature, which is the expression of God's love on the human level, Christ's Divine Person relates Him, not to some single human person, not to some group, large or small, linked in time or place, but to all men and all creatures proceeding somehow, even as He does, as images of the Father. This is possible since, as Saint Thomas was later to explain as he took up in his turn the doctrine of Augustine, the formal constitutive element of the Person of Christ is His unlimited Esse, His infinite Act of Being qua Filial, that is, as derived and received from the Father, and qua Brotherly because we too receive our existence and our supernatural life from the very same Father. Truly we are filii in Filio, namely, sons with and in the only Begotten Son.
One last remark by way of conclusion. Today, when there is such selfishness and strife, let us recall and revive these precious intuitions of Saint Augustine on person and personality. Let us realize that as individuals and as nations we can achieve maturity and fullness, not independently and alone, but only by interdependence and cooperation, by giving and receiving. We are, it is true, little absolutes, and yet at the same time always related, correlated and interrelated with other persons and personalities. We are not meant to live in a depersonalized world.
May we, inspired by Augustine's own personality, discover person and personality. Let us not be fundamentalists, either as Augustinians, philosophers or Christians. Our world of today, like that of Augustine, admired so greatly by him and to which he was so indebted for much that he was, would appear to be crumbling while another, groping painfully, comes into being. Like him, then, let us strike out boldly, in deep sympathy with the trends of the day without being slavishly bound to them. As in Augustine's time, the Church and the world are in need of creative thinking which must come, most of all, from the side of laymen who, in many fields, at least, alone have the knowledge, ability and authority to act. "Orthodoxy," says Chesterton, "is an adventure."34 Inspired by Saint Augustine, the philosopher and theologian, inspired as Christians by so great a Christian thinker, let us, under the guidance of Divine Revelation, venture humbly but bravely on this path where our own personality, creativity, and originality will help not only ourselves but our fellow men to be fully persons.35