'Against Academicians and the Teacher'
By St. Augustine (Author) and Peter King (Translator)
These new translations of two treatises dealing with the possibility and nature of knowledge in the face of skeptical challenges are the first to be rendered from the Latin critical edition, the first to be made specifically with a philosophical audience in mind, and the first to be translated by a scholar with expertise in both modern epistemology and philosophy of language.
Many consider St. Augustine to be the founder of Western Christian thought both in its philosophical and theological aspects. Born in North Africa, St. Augustine turned in his youth to the study of philosophy especially that of Cicero and the Neoplatonists. For some years he was even a Manichaean, that is, a follower of a religion based on dualism which had issued from ancient Persia and had spread into the Roman Empire at that time. It was not until 386 A.D. that he became converted to Christianity, rising very rapidly in Christian ecclesiastical circles until he became the bishop of Hippo and one of the most important fathers of the Western Christian Church now known as the Catholic Church. In the year 400 A.D. St. Augustine wrote his famous Confessions which is one of the great masterpieces of Western thought. In this work he expressed his belief that philosophy could lead to happiness and even blessedness and could be harmonized with Christianity. In fact, he con- sidered Christianity itself to be a philosophy in which the scriptures were the authority and where faith was central.
One of the main concerns of St. Augustine to which he turned over and over again was the relationship between faith and understanding or faith and reason and at the same time the relationship between reason and illumination. His major work, which is called The City of God, also contains the Christian view of time and history as well as of the perfect and imperfect society wherein he emphasized the significance of the presence of sin and the importance of redemption through Christ. When St. Augustine died in the year 430 A.D., he had already left a body of work which was to influence all later history of Christian thought and even much of Western philosophy in circles outside of the specifically Catholic confession.
(Seyyed Hossein Nasr)
Note: 'The Great Books of the Western World recommends St. Augustine's ‘On the Teacher’.