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There is No Searching for the Self: Self-Knowledge in Book Ten of Augustine’s De Trinitate

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Abstract This article explores the conception of self-knowledge in book 10 of Augustine’s De Trinitate. Augustine starts from the worry in Plato’s Meno that one cannot search for something entirely unknown and engages with Plotinus, Ennead 5.3 in developing his own understanding of the mind’s self-knowledge. He concludes that this knowledge is paradoxical in nature: it is necessary and, at the same time, futile; and it is separated from the knowledge of God. Augustine reaches this point by rejecting the Aristotelian identity of the knower with the known, as well as by grounding self-knowledge in the fact of the mind’s intimate presence to itself. Ultimately, self-knowledge appears to be an ‘objectless’ knowledge, a knowledge that the mind exists rather than knowledge of what the mind is.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Classical Philology, Adam Mickiewicz University Fredry 10, Poznań, 61-701 Poland


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