Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 4
Chapter 4.—How the Mind Knows Itself, Not in Part, But as a Whole.
6. What then shall we say? Does that which knows itself in part, not know itself in part? But it is absurd to say, that it does not as a whole know what it knows. I do not say, it knows wholly; but what it knows, it as a whole knows. When therefore it knows anything about itself, which it can only know as a whole, it knows itself as a whole. But it does know that itself knows something, while yet except as a whole it cannot know anything. Therefore it knows itself as a whole. Further, what in it is so known to itself, as that it lives? And it cannot at once be a mind, and not live, while it has also something over and above, viz., that it understands: for the souls of beasts also live, but do not understand. As therefore a mind is a whole mind, so it lives as a whole. But it knows that it lives. Therefore it knows itself as a whole. Lastly, when the mind seeks to know itself, it already knows that it is a mind: otherwise it knows not whether it seeks itself, and perhaps seeks one thing while intending to seek another. For it might happen that itself was not a mind, and so, in seeking to know a mind, that it did not seek to know itself. Wherefore since the mind, when it seeks to know what mind is, knows that it seeks itself, certainly it knows that itself is a mind. Furthermore, if it knows this in itself, that it is a mind, and a whole mind, then it knows itself as a whole. But suppose it did not know itself to be a mind, but in seeking itself only knew that it did seek itself. For so, too, it may possibly seek one thing for another, if it does not know this: but that it may not seek one thing for another, without doubt it knows what it seeks. But if it knows what it seeks, and seeks itself, then certainly it knows itself. What therefore more does it seek? But if it knows itself in part, but still seeks itself in part, then it seeks not itself, but part of itself. For when we speak of the mind itself, we speak of it as a whole. Further, because it knows that it is not yet found by itself as a whole, it knows how much the whole is. And so it seeks that p. 138 which is wanting, as we are wont to seek to recall to the mind something that has slipped from the mind, but has not altogether gone away from it; since we can recognize it, when it has come back, to be the same thing that we were seeking. But how can mind come into mind, as though it were possible for the mind not to be in the mind? Add to this, that if, having found a part, it does not seek itself as a whole, yet it as a whole seeks itself. Therefore as a whole it is present to itself, and there is nothing left to be sought: for that is wanting which is sought, not the mind which seeks. Since therefore it as a whole seeks itself, nothing of it is wanting. Or if it does not as a whole seek itself, but the part which has been found seeks the part which has not yet been found then the mind does not seek itself, of which no part seeks itself. For the part which has been found, does not seek itself; nor yet does the part itself which has not yet been found, seek itself; since it is sought by that part which has been already found. Wherefore, since neither the mind as a whole seeks itself, nor does any part of it seek itself, the mind does not seek itself at all.
Next: Chapter 5
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