Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Inner World and the Outer World

The human experience of seeking peace and meaning in life has two sides: to have inner peace is a very different thing than to have out peace. To be sure, both are good. The logic of observing the external world of appearances, whether appreciating the beauty of nature or measuring chemicals in a laboratory or analyzing the trends of world history, is different than the logic of internal reflection and meditation.

Augustine found that answers to the world were not just found outwardly in nature, but inward, in the self. “The foregoing analysis of St. Augustine’s life and philosophy has shown that the chief influence of religion was to turn his attention to the inward of subjective aspects of reality. This led him to discover and emphasize philosophical principles drawn, not from the realm of nature, but from the self,” wrote W. Wylie Spencer. This attitude really appealed to philosophers, especially Platonists. In order for Augustine to appeal theologically to people, he first had to produce a clear philosophy. And he did. He wrote a lot about many different topics. He was clear and succinct in his beliefs and arguments. His philosophy was unique and genuine. Spencer continues: “To this it may be added that the account given by St. Augustine of his search for truth and understanding confirms the judgment that original work was done in the construction of his final philosophy, but, after all, the content of his philosophical system is the surest test of originality.” Augustine’s philosophy and theology have an interesting relationship, but ultimately they supported each other. By creating this original inward-focusing philosophy, the theological system that followed was much more appealing to the intellectuals.