Abstract
In book eight of De trinitate Augustine of Hippo proposes two ways of coming to a vision of God, which have baffled me all my years of teaching Augustine.In the second of these he tells us to take “this good” and “that good” and to set aside “this” and “that” and promises that in doing so one will see God. Scholarlyliterature proved quite unhelpful in understanding what Augustine had in mind, especially since this procedure seems to presuppose that God, the subsistent good, is present in particular good things and merely has to be unwrapped or unveiled in order for one to see the Good itself that is God. A clue to understanding what the bishop of Hippo had in mind can be found in his inversion of John’s claim in 1 John 4:8 to “Love is God.” Other Latin Fathers follow Augustine in this inversion, and Prosper of Aquitaine generalizes it for all the virtues or excellences. If one bears in mind the Plotinian doctrine of the integral omnipresence of suchvirtues or excellences, each of which is God, the sort of abstraction of the Good itself from individual good things, as Augustine proposed, becomes intelligible,and Henry of Ghent illustrates this sort of abstraction in his metaphysical argument for the existence of God.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Conference Proceedings  History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 0065-7638
DOI 10.5840/acpaproc2009833
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