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Augustine And The Philosophical Foundations Of Sincerity

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Chapter Summary

In 1958, the distinguished American literary critic Lionel Trilling published a book entitled Sincerity and Authenticity. Contra Trilling, this chapter argues, the moral ideal of sincerity long pre-dates the sixteenth century. Contra Trilling, the chapter makes bold to claim, the works of Augustine bear witness to the emergence, in the late antique age, of sincerity as a moral virtue. Sincerity is a complex notion. Its everyday use is loose and untidy. The chapter draws a detailed and accurate map of the conceptual territory. In contrast with ancient authors of the Classical period, Augustine adopted an uncompromising attitude to truth-telling. Augustine?s purpose in drawing a contrast between the light of righteousness and the darkness of temporal cares is not, however, solely to describe the mental set up of hypocrites and other sinners. It is also, more importantly, to offer a philosophical account of it.

Keywords: Augustine; philosophical account; sincerity



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