Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 3
Chapter 3.—That When the Mind Loves Itself, It is Not Unknown to Itself.
5. What, then, does the mind love, when it seeks ardently to know itself, whilst it is still unknown to itself? For, behold, the mind seeks to know itself, and is excited thereto by studious zeal. It loves, therefore; but what does it love? Is it itself? But how can this be when it does not yet know itself, and no one can love what he does not know? Is it that report has declared to it its own species, in like way as we commonly hear of people who are absent? Perhaps, then, it does not love itself, but loves that which it imagines of itself, which is perhaps widely different from what itself is: or if the phantasy in the mind is like the mind itself, and p. 137 so when it loves this fancied image, it loves itself before it knew itself, because it gazes upon that which is like itself; then it knew other minds from which to picture itself, and so is known to itself generically. Why, then, when it knows other minds, does it not know itself, since nothing can possibly be more present to it than itself? But if, as other eyes are more known to the eyes of the body, than those eyes are to themselves; then let it not seek itself, because it never will find itself. For eyes can never see themselves except in looking-glasses; and it cannot be supposed in any way that anything of that kind can be applied also to the contemplation of incorporeal things, so that the mind should know itself, as it were, in a looking-glass. Or does it see in the reason of eternal truth how beautiful it is to know ones self, and so loves this which it sees, and studies to bring it to pass in itself? because, although it is not known to itself, yet it is known to it how good it is, that it should be known to itself. And this, indeed, is very wonderful, that it does not yet know itself, and yet knows already how excellent a thing it is to know itself. Or does it see some most excellent end, viz. its own serenity and blessedness, by some hidden remembrance, which has not abandoned it, although it has gone far onwards, and believes that it cannot attain to that same end unless it know itself? And so while it loves that, it seeks this; and loves that which is known, on account of which it seeks that which is unknown. But why should the remembrance of its own blessedness be able to last, and the remembrance of itself not be able to last as well; that so it should know itself which wishes to attain, as well as know that to which it wishes to attain? Or when it loves to know itself, does it love, not itself, which it does not yet know, but the very act of knowing; and feel the more annoyed that itself is wanting to its own knowledge wherewith it wishes to embrace all things? And it knows what it is to know; and whilst it loves this, which it knows, desires also to know itself. Whereby, then, does it know its own knowing, if it does not know itself? For it knows that it knows other things, but that it does not know itself; for it is from hence that it knows also what knowing is. In what way, then, does that which does not know itself, know itself as knowing anything? For it does not know that some other mind knows, but that itself does so. Therefore it knows itself. Further, when it seeks to know itself, it knows itself now as seeking. Therefore again it knows itself. And hence it cannot altogether not know itself, when certainly it does so far know itself as that it knows itself as not knowing itself. But if it does not know itself not to know itself, then it does not seek to know itself. And therefore, in the very fact that it seeks itself, it is clearly convicted of being more known to itself than unknown. For it knows itself as seeking and as not knowing itself, in that it seeks to know itself.
Next: Chapter 4
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