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Various: St. Augustine the Thelemite

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.thelema,talk.religion.misc
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Various: St. Augustine the Thelemite
Date: 20 Dec 1997 14:32:07 -0800

[technical difficulties enforced delay -- edited for readability]

John Tarnowski :

On Thu, 25 Sep 1997, Michelle/Tom Catlett-Tetzlaff wrote:
> On the other hand, 'love... and do as you will' or its 
> equivalent doesn't strike me as very Augustinian.  More 
> like 'love... and do as *God* wills.' But  I'm no expert.

Augustinian philosophy as I have always understood it (and I'm a religious
historian, so its not like I'm a rank amateur at this) was that man has no
free Will; indeed, that is the general policy of intellectual 
Christianity in general and (however much someone like Thomas Aquinas
would have wished otherwise) it is the only logically possible situation
within the Christian world view (that is, an all powerful monotheism with
an economy of salvation).


John Tarnowski :

On Fri, 26 Sep 1997 wrote:
>#>Geoffrey Ashe mentions the Augustinian usage, and seems familiar 
>#>with it, but does not give a reference or even say what book it 
>#>is in. ("Do What You Will: A History of Anti-Morality", p. 20). 
>#>I have looked through "the City of God" without finding this 
>#>passage, but I have not read the book through and can't say 
>#>it's not there.
> Once again, Crowley references the similarity between Liber Al's 
> "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" in comparison 
> to St. Augustine's "Love, and do what thou wilt." in "Eight 
> Lectures on Yoga" Lecture #3 of Yoga for Yellowbellies.
> Page 66, item #7 of the Falcon Press edition. 

But I don't believe Crowley actually bothers to cite the page (or 
even the book) where this quote of Augustine's can be found (one 
of Crowley's weaknesses, he wasn't really much of a stickler for 
genuine scholarship).

To me, the place where I can find Crowley mentioning the quote 
is useless; I need to find the quote in Augustine's works.

=========================================================== (Ghost):

> Augustinian philosophy as I have always understood it [....] was that
> man has no free Will

hmm, no. Augustinus equals the ('good') will of man with the will of 
God ['not my will be done but thine' and he says that 'evil' comes 
from the freedom of choice]; but man has the option to turn away from 
God: decisions are free -his proof is a bit weak though: you can 
remember your decisions as free, so they are free.... 
from god's POV it looks totally different because he is 'beyond' 
time and all time is 'known' to him, and with time all decisions made 
in past or future.  Augustinus writes pages to explain this tricky 
problem because most people equal eternity with a huge span of time....



GM/John Tarnowski wrote:
>Augustinian philosophy as I have always understood it (and I'm 
>a religious historian, so its not like I'm a rank amateur at 
>this) was that man has no free Will....

On the other hand, R. A. Markus in The Cambridge History of Later Greek 
and Early Medieval Philosophy (ed. A. H. Armstrong, Cambridge:  
University Press, my edition 1995):

According to Augustine, man "is the only creature who is not at the mercy
of all the forces acting upon him and within him in their totality.
Augustine calls the capactity which sets man apart from beasts in this
respect, whereby he is in command over at least some of his actions, his
will.  To say that man is endowed with free choice is no more than another
way of saying the same thing. ...  Man alone is thus free, in the sense
that, though foreseen by God, some at least of his actions are not subject
to 'necessity', or, to use Augustine's alternative terminology, are not
determined by 'nature'."  (both quotes p. 384)

But perhaps, unlike you, Markus is a "rank amateur."

The passage may be found in In Ionnis epistulam ad Parthos 
tractatus VII 8.


John Tarnowski :

On Sat, 27 Sep 1997, [HH] wrote:

[quotes all of above, omitted here]

> But perhaps, unlike you, Markus is a "rank amateur."

Not exactly, but I think this interpretation overlooks the overwhelming
position of Augustine's views on salvation (which, after all, would have
been all that really mattered to Augustine when it came to free will). It
also fails to cover that while Augustine's beliefs changed back and forth
throughout his life, by the end he had become decidedly against the idea
of free will (reading the City of God and the Confessions will
confirm both my statements; with City of God being particularly relevant
to the questions of salvation and predermination, and the Confessions
especially so in the matter of the evolution of Augustine's thought, both
as a non-christian and later as a christian).

=========================================================== (Michelle/Tom Catlett-Tetzlaff):

John sez [from above]:
> the end he had become decidedly against the idea...
>as a non-christian and later as a christian).

A convoluted bit in _City of God_ V.,10 reads:

"...we are by no means compelled, either, retaining the prescience of God,
to take away the freedom of the will, or, retaining the freedom of the
will, to deny that He is prescient of future things, which is impious.  But
we embrace both.  We faithfully and sincerely confess both.  The former,
that we may believe well; the latter, that we may live well."

The whole chapter from which this is taken reads as an elaborate
rationalization, as a 'resolving into God' of the conflict between what at
this point in his life seems to be his genuine belief in free will, and his
belief in his god's omnipotence.  Nearly in the same breath Augustine says
that if one's will is thwarted, or free will is not exercised, it's because
God is the real underlying Will of which all wills are a part.  Stretching
the thought, didn't Crowley have a similar idea?  That all true wills
acting together properly operated on a grander plan, conflict occuring when
the will is misapplied.

Ok, maybe I've stretched the thought till it snapped , but if you called
the complexity of that grander plan a composite 'God,' formed of the unity
of all of the individual Gods and their orbits, it would seem to fit.


~From: [HH]

I wrote:
>> But perhaps, unlike you, Markus is a "rank amateur."

To which GM/John Tarnowski responded:
>Not exactly, but I think this interpretation overlooks the overwhelming
>position of Augustine's views on salvation (which, after all, would have
>been all that really mattered to Augustine when it came to free will).

Markus cites work, book, and section for each of his propositions, and each
of his conclusions is based upon one or more such.  That is what I call
support, the demonstration of knowledge rather than the airing of opinion.

It is true that you go on to say that Confessions and The City of God
confirm your statement that
>while Augustine's beliefs changed back and forth
>throughout his life, by the end he had become decidedly against the idea
>of free will
but citing two very long works in bulk is not what I call support.  (One
could as easily say "It is clear that Jesus himself gave voice to a
doctrine of predestination; see the Gospels.")  Can you show me where
exactly in both City of God and Confessions Augustine reveals himself as
being "decidedly against the idea of free will" and how being against such
is in relation to "salvation"?

I would in fact be especially impressed if you could produce a Confessions
citation that shows these two things.

One of the principal themes of Confessions is a human struggle with the
temptations of the corporeal world; mastery of these temptations is to be
gotten through the deity; human freedom is to be subordinated to divine

1.  The following indicates that, with Augustine, human will exists and
choice as well:
X 23:  "It may be that all men do desire to be happy, but because the
impulses of the spirit are at war with one another, so that they cannot do
all that their will approves, they fall back upon what they are able to do
and find contentment in this way.  For their will to do what they cannot do
is not strong enough to enable them to do it."
XIII 31:  "There are many, in fact, who find your creation pleasing because
it is good, but what they find pleasing in it is not you.  They choose to
look for happiness, not in you, but in what you have created."
If not a product of free will, then what is choice?

2.  Living with the deity and in his grace is upon the condition that
Augustine serve in accordance with that to which divinity has given voice;
that he live with the deity and in his grace is a matter of his own wish,
and, to me at least, wish implies choice:
X 4:  "You have named them as the masters whom I am to serve if I wish to
live with you and in your grace."

3.  A state of grace is a matter of subordinating human freedom to divine
will, which entails controlling one's interest in the corporeal world so
that attention may be devoted to the incorporeal:

3a.  Augustine obeys the deity; his soul has submitted to the deity:
X 4:  "I do your bidding in word and deed alike.  I do it beneath the
protection of your wings, for the peril would be too great if it were not
that my soul has submitted to you and sought the shelter of your wings and
that my weakness is known to you."

3b.  The inclination to assert human freedom has been purged from Augustine
by the deity; and, to me at least, liberty is closely linked, if not
identical to, free will:
X 36:  "You know how great a change you have worked in me, for first of all
you have cured me of the desire to assert my liberty, so that you may also
pardon me all my other sins."

3c.  Augustine, a human, would act according to command of divine will:
X 37:  "Give me the grace to do as you command, and command me to do what
you will!"
X 29:  "There can be no hope for me except in your great mercy.  Give me
the grace to do as you command, and command me to do what you will!  You
command us to control our bodily desires."
XIII 22:  When a man "has remade his mind and can see and understand your
truth, he has no need of other men to teach him to imitate his kind.  You
show him and he sees for himself what is your will, the good thing, the
desirable thing, the perfect thing."

3d.  Divinity could aid Augustine in overcoming corporeal temptation:
X 31:  "Every day I try my hardest to resist these temptations.  I call for
your helping hand and tell you of my difficulties."
X 36:  "Can anything restore me to hope except your mercy?  That you are
merciful I know, for you have begun to change me."
X 43:  "Rightly do I place in him [the Son] my firm hope that you will cure
all my ills through him who sits at your right hand and pleads for us:
otherwise I should despair."

3e.  Divinity can aid via teaching Augustine, a human, and teaching in the
context of action, to me at least, has as its aim the modification of
behavior, which is a result of incorporeal motivation:
X 40:  "You have walked everywhere at my side, O Truth, teaching me what to
seek and what to avoid, whenever I laid before you the things that I was
able to see in this world below and asked you to counsel me. ... I heard
you teaching me and I heard the commands you gave."

3f.  It is in fact through deity both that Augustine "wins the mastery" and
that he is rid of his human temptations in favor of divine purpose:
XI 29:  "I see now that my life has been wasted in distractions, but your
right hand has supported me in the person of Christ my Lord, the Son of
man, who is the Mediator between you, who are one, and men, who are many.
He has upheld me in many ways and through many trials, in order that
through him I may win the mastery, as he has won the mastery over me; in
order that I may be rid of my old temptations and devote myself only to
God's single purpose, forgetting what I have left behind."

4.  Highlighting the distinction between action as a result of human nature
and action as a result of deity operating through a human:
X 4:  "The good I do is done by you in me and by your grace:  the evil is
my fault; it is the punishment you send me."

In Confessions, "salvation," as you call it, by which I understand you to
mean "a state of grace," is not linked with the absence of free will, nor
is the existence of free will denied; a state of grace is a matter of
losing one's individual freedom in favor of divine will; it is a matter of
mastering one's love of the corporeal in favor of that of the incorporeal;
it is a matter of obedience to the deity, receiving and heeding the command
of its will.  These are all activities that occur within the sphere of
human time; that a state of grace is dependent upon them, and through them
in turn upon the deity, makes a state of grace dependent upon action both
in the sphere of human time and in the sphere of eternity.  Free will, or
liberty, is not stated as being absent in man; rather, he is to become rid
of it or at least subordinate it to divine will during his human life in
order to attain a state of grace.

Again I ask whether you can show me where in Confessions Augustine reveals
himself as being "against the idea of free will," and again I ask whether
you can show me how in Confessions his allegedly being against such is in
relation to "salvation."  Furthermore, I challenge you to reconcile with
rigorous reason whatever such citations you might produce with those given

I do not know how Confessions can confirm the temporal aspect of your
statement that "by the end he had become decidedly against the idea of free
will," as Confessions was written some 30 years before Augustine's death.

Also, what is an "overwhelming position"?

Incidentally, you are welcome for my giving you the location of the
citation for which you sought, namely "Love, and do what you will," which,
again, is at In Ionnis epistulam ad Parthos tractatus VII 8.


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Path: Supernews70!Supernews60!!!!!!Sprint!!!!!!demon!!demon!!not-for-mail
From: (Alexander Maclennan)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.thelema,talk.religion.misc
Subject: Re: Various: St. Augustine the Thelemite
Date: Sun, 21 Dec 1997 04:21:33 GMT
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Xref: Supernews70 alt.magick.tyagi:14527 alt.magick:120905 talk.religion.misc:335961 (nagasiva) wrote:

> The passage may be found in In Ionnis epistulam ad Parthos 
tractatus > VII 8.

I gather the popular version Ama et fac quod vis is a misquotation and
that the actual phrase is Dilige et quod vis fac.   
from Oxford Dictionary of Quotations  1942.


Alexander MacLennan

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