Augustine's Confessions: Conversion and Consciousness argues two original positions concerning the structure and meaning of the Confessions by Augustine. The structure is found to be a tool used by Augustine in his earlier pre-Confessions writings in which he uses the Allegory of the Cave in book VII of the Republic by Plato to both describe human consciousness and as a structural framework for his own life story. As with Plato's allegory, Augustine then uses Books X-XIII to do, what the author calls, "Scriptural Philosophical" analysis of the allegorical prayer previously given. The author shows that the Confessions is really an allegorical quasi-prayer that shows Augustine's state of mind or disposition through space/time—and at the same time uses different personas, schools of thought and metaphysical constructs to show the inadequacy of Plato's consciousness model of the cave to truly describe human ratiocination within consciousness in its totality—Synchronic-Synthetic-Triplex (SST) or body, mind, God-Will substance. Instead, Augustine demonstrates the superiority of the Christian conversion to that of the Platonic as described both by Platonic books and the books of the Platonists. The Christian conversion is based on the incarnate Wisdom of Christ Jesus within the Cave/World.
Robert H. Craig is an ordained Baptist minister and holds a PhD in philosophy and religion from the University of South Florida.
Foreword by Nicholas Wolterstorff
Chapter One: Sitz Im Leben: The Setting in Life of the Confessiones
Chapter Two: Socratism: Human Ratiocination and Happiness
Chapter Three: Pura Mente: Augustine’s Early Philosophy of Medicinal Scripture
Chapter Four: “Autopsychographical” Augustine: Allegory of the Cave Structure in Books I - IX
Chapter Five: “Analytic” Augustine: Synchronic-Synthetic-Triplex and Superior Conversion as Meaning in Books X - XIII
Chapter Six: Confession-al Influence on Philosophy of Mind and Metaphysics
Conclusion – The Cave and God Consciousness Understanding
Appendix: Structure and Meaning Analysis of the Confessiones
About the Author
Augustine’s Confessions is a book written in the first and second persons – both a self-exploration and a dialog with the one who has always spoken, acted, and given even before we are on the scene. Dr. Craig asks what we might learn from this narrative grammar about the mind itself. He helpfully suggests that we should read Augustine in the light of Plato’s celebrated image of the ‘cave’ in which finite minds are trapped, and allow our reading of the work to be itself an opening to conversion, an exit from the cave. Here is an innovative and generative reading of the Confessions, sensitive to both history and metaphysics. It’s an original and persuasive piece of work and to my mind makes a real contribution to Augustine studies.
It’s a rich interpretation, compelling in its comprehensiveness, deeply informed by the relevant primary and secondary literature, and highly original, distinctly different from all previous interpretations... It’s an interpretation that I find compelling.
The reading of Augustine's Confessions never ends. That is the way it should be. Few books have the style and substance of this extraordinary book. So we now have Robert Craig's extraordinary proposal for reading The Confessions. I confess when I first read his proposal I was doubtful but he has done his homework and he rightly loves this book. Craig's book will be rejected by many but that makes it the kind of book you need to live with. Plato's cave is itself a great piece of literature and if Craig is right it helps us understand Augustine. We should not be surprised.
Robert Craig's book provides a much more rounded approach to Augustine's Confessions. It is to be seen at once as a work of 'scriptural philosophy' and yet as still in the pagan philosophical tradition precisely *because* it approaches Christianity as the 'true life' and seeks to allegorize, personify and exemplify its new theoretical teachings. Thereby the book encourages us today further to think about the Bible and philosophy in tandem.