Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Augustine's Invention of the Inner Self The Legacy of a Christian Platonist by Philip Cary

Augustine's Invention of the Inner Self The Legacy of a Christian Platonist


Augustine's Invention of the Inner Self The Legacy of a Christian Platonist by Philip Cary

In this book, Phillip Cary argues that Augustine invented the concept of the self as a private inner space-a space into which one can enter and in which one can find God. Although it has often been suggested that Augustine in some way inaugurated the Western tradition of inwardness, this is the first study to pinpoint what was new about Augustine's philosophy of inwardness and situate it within a narrative of his intellectual development and his relationship to the Platonist tradition. Augustine invents the inner self, Cary argues, in order to solve a particular conceptual problem. Augustine is attracted to the Neoplatonist inward turn, which located God within the soul, yet remains loyal to the orthodox Catholic teaching that the soul is not divine. He combines the two emphases by urging us to turn in then up -to enter the inner world of the self before gazing at the divine Light above the human mind. Cary situates Augustine's idea of the self historically in both the Platonist and the Christian traditions. The concept of private inner self, he shows, is a development within the history of the Platonist concept of intelligibility or intellectual vision, which establishes a kind of kinship between the human intellect and the divine things it sees. Though not the only Platonist in the Christian tradition, Augustine stands out for his devotion to this concept of intelligibility and his willingness to apply it even to God. This leads him to downplay the doctrine that God is incomprehensible, as he is convinced that it is natural for the mind's eye, when cleansed of sin, to see and understand God. In describing Augustine's invention of the inner self, Cary's fascinating book sheds new light on Augustine's life and thought, and shows how Augustine's position developed into the more orthodox Augustine we know from his later writings.


...a first-rate study of the influences on the great bishop and the innovations he made to his intellectual/spiritual inheritance. -Theology Today

About the Author

Dr. Phillip Cary is Director of the Philosophy Program at Eastern College in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, where he is also Scholar-in-residence at the Templeton Honors College.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

1st January 2003


Philip Cary

More books by Philip Cary
Author 'Like for Like'


Oxford University Press Inc


232 pages


Western philosophy: Ancient, to c 500
Philosophy: metaphysics & ontology



Lovereading is like booking a holiday, you don't know what it will be like and it is a whole new experience.

Sue Burton

Lovereading takes the guesswork out of finding your next read with "if you like you'll love" and extracts to help with your decision.

Sarah Bruch

Lovereading - a community of people passionate about reading and sharing their views. An incomparable website for book lovers.

Helen Clark

Lovereading recommends, honestly reviews and promotes books-what more can I say?!

Rachel Bridgeman

I 'Lovereading' because it lets me see what new books are around with a detailed synopsis and readers' reviews.

Judith Sharp

It has enriched my leisure time by introducing me to a world of books which I would not have previously considered.

Val Rowe

I love reading books I wouldn't normally choose before everyone else gets to read them!

Dawn Lynch

The best new books on the market, reviewed honestly, to give your readers the best choices.

Julie Cook