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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 7

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 7.—How Much the Platonists are to Be Held as Excelling Other Philosophers in Logic, i.e. Rational Philosophy.

Then, again, as far as regards the doctrine which treats of that which they call logic, that is, rational philosophy, far be it from us to compare them with those who attributed to the bodily senses the faculty of discriminating truth, and thought, that all we learn is to be measured by their untrustworthy and fallacious rules.  Such were the Epicureans, and all of the same school.  Such also were the Stoics, who ascribed to the bodily senses that expertness in disputation which they so ardently love, called by them dialectic, asserting that from the senses the mind conceives the notions (ἒννοιαι) of those things which they explicate by definition.  And hence is developed the whole plan and connection of their learning and teaching.  I often wonder, with respect to this, how they can say that none are beautiful but the wise; for by what bodily sense have they perceived that beauty, by what eyes of the flesh have they seen wisdom’s comeliness of form?  Those, however, whom we justly rank before all others, have distinguished those things which are conceived by the mind from those which are perceived by the senses, neither taking away from the senses anything to which they are competent, nor attributing to them anything beyond their competency.  And the light of our understandings, by which all things are learned by us, they have affirmed to be that selfsame God by whom all things were made.

Next: Chapter 8