AUGUSTINE AND AQUINAS 5
Faithand religion has often been used to explain the human nature. Humannature depicts the natural features including thoughts and deeds thatinfluence our social welfare. Through the existence of human nature,human beings seek to understand the true meaning of life. Two famousphilosophers often cited for their views on human nature areAugustineand Aquinas. In philosophy, the existence of Supreme Being, universe,and self is a highly debated issue. On his part, Aquinas integratesthe Christian faith with the Greek philosophy. He also dwelt largelyon human happiness where he argued that one cannot get ‘perfecthappiness’ in the current life. Aquinas asserts that one can onlyget imperfect happiness on earth. St. Augustine, a Christian thinker,believed that human happiness was not possible but could only be gotin the ‘heavenly afterlife’. The paper seeks to examine theethical ideas drawn by two great Christian thinkers namely Augustineand Aquinas. The discussion will also look into their views abouthuman nature on what constitutes good or bad.
Itis largely accepted that religious practices provide information,human interaction, and enhancement in making informed choices in lifethat reflects the existence of human nature (Bellah, 2011). Thephilosophers supporting the existentialism argue that philosophicalthinking starts with the human nature. The existentialism principlesare founded on the fact that human beings experience a meaninglesslife that is full of confusion (Bellah,2011).
Humanbeings are destined to be free and exposed to good and bad thingsaround them (Espín & Nickoloff, 2007). Manremains the centre of control of almost all activities and events, ona daily basis. StAugustine argues that the original committed by Adam and Eveblemishes human beings. Man deserves a punishment for his/her sins.Nonetheless, he believes that few individuals whom God has givensalvation hence free from his punishment. Since there is no known Godchooses his people, St Augustine believes that faith or good deedscannot guarantee salvation to a human being. Moreover, he assertsthat one should seek to know the truth since God is associated withthe truth. Truth can be realized through inner experiences orconviction. It is also important, according to St Augustine, forhuman beings to believe (Espín & Nickoloff, 2007). Faith isalso instrumental in contemplating good deeds and God’s wishes. StAugustine maintains that faith gives the real meaning of life. Faithis viewed as infinite, thus seen as perfect and supreme as opposed tofinite. A number of people have adopted new religious beliefs becauseof fear of the unknown. He asserts that the humble and diligentindividuals help in formulating the basis of the meaning of life. Onecan find rational peace and serenity through faith within his soulthat are crucial in understanding the meaning of life, which depictsthe existence of human nature. It is evident that faith is the valuethat cannot be defined through rational or experiential proof. Thereis a common aspect of faith that appears to suggest that all is right(Hauerwas& Wells, 2011).
Onhis part, St Aquinas focused largely on natural law and morality tohelp in explaining his ethical ideas. St Aquinas has great reverencefor the existence of nature and Supreme Being. Lifeis comprised of known and unknown aspects, which can only beexplained by the existence of a human nature and the Supreme Being(Aristotle& Crisp, 2014).Nonetheless, he argues that human beings have free will to undertaketheir wishes. He does not believe in divine predestination hence hisassertion that all human ends can be easily realized. StAquinas offers human beings with the moral guidance that aids them inunderstanding and obeying the eternal law. Conversely, St Augustinehighlights the need to importance of respecting and loving God(Decosimo, 2014). The two philosophers have great respect for God butdiffer on the approach taken to show love or respect. I would sidewith St Augustine for I believe that human beings have the free willto undertake good or evil. I also believe that human beings need tobe truthful to their deeds and thoughts. Such values are instrumentalsince God is truth and love. St Augustine believes in God as thecreator and controller of the human nature. Thus, our ethicalbehaviors should be guided by godly thoughts and deeds (Crisp, 2013).
Thetruthof the ‘meaning of life’ can be garnered from the religiousteachings that set to disentangle the truth and falsehoods. Oneshould live searching god and living in harmony with good deeds(Espín& Nickoloff, 2007).Human life isconsidered as a journey and race at the same time depending on theviewpoint. These perspectives contrast each other fundamentally.However, when one evaluates life closely, there are numerous premisesthat make the conception of life as a race more founded. Every humanbeing needs to undertake and understand good deeds. It is throughguidance from God that one can show respect and love to one another.Doing well is not helpful to an individual but is also a sign ofreverence to God.
Aristotle,& Crisp, R. (2014). Nicomacheanethics.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bellah,R. N. (2011). Religionin human evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age.Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Crisp,R. (2013). TheOxford handbook of the history of ethics.Oxford: Oxford University Press
Decosimo,J. D. (2014). Ethicsas a work of charity: Thomas Aquinas and pagan virtue.Stanford, California : Stanford University Press.
Espín,O. O., & Nickoloff, J. B. (2007). Anintroductory dictionary of theology and religious studies.Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press.
Hauerwas,S., & Wells, S. (2011). TheBlackwell Companion to Christian Ethics.New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.