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Confessions

by: St. Augustine

Suggested Essay Topics

What is Augustine's religious status as a young boy?

What is Augustine's opinion on reading fiction?

How does Augustine account for his sins as an infant? How does he account for his sins as a schoolboy?

What were the root causes of Augustine's erotic adventures as a teenager?

What is the proper role of sex, according to Augustine?

Why does Augustine first leave Thagaste for Carthage?

How does Monica respond to Augustine's promiscuity as a teenager in Thagaste and Carthage?

What particularly disturbs Augustine about his theft of the pears? How does he account for his motives in the theft?

What is the central argument of Cicero's Hortensius? How did it influence Augustine?

What was Augustine's reaction to his first encounter with the bible?

Name three Manichee challenges to Christianity.

Describe the Neoplatonic concept of different levels of Being.

How does Augustine use the Neoplatonic conception of evil to refute the Manichean conception?

What is Augustine's error in 'picturing' God?

What were some Manichee criticisms of the Old Testament?

What is the difference between divine justice and relative justice?

How does Augustine categorize sins?

Describe Monica's first vision (the one about Augustine).

How does Augustine view his career as a teacher of rhetoric?

What does Augustine learn from the death of his friend in Thagaste?

What are some problems with using language to get closer to God? What is the exception to these problems?

What was Augustine's basic argument in The Beautiful and the Fitting? What does he regret about this book?

What mistake does Augustine make with regard to Aristotle's Categories?

What was Augustine's opinion of Faustus?

How did Augustine's belief in Manichee dualism compromise his acceptance of responsibility for his sins?

How did Bishop Ambrose help Augustine toward conversion to Catholicism?

What is a 'spiritual substance?' What made it difficult for Augustine to grasp this concept?

What bothers Augustine about the beggar he encounters in Milan?

Describe Augustine's initial response to Neoplatonism (what he likes, what he doesn't).

What happens in Augustine's 'Neoplatonic' ecstatic vision of God? What breakthrough does he achieve in it?

What is the relationship between free will and evil?

Why does Augustine find the gospel of Paul better than the Neoplatonist texts he had read?

How does Augustine describe his state of mind just prior to his conversion experience in Milan?

Tell the story of Augustine's conversion in the Milan garden.

What practical changes does Augustine make following his decision to convert to Catholicism?

For what does Augustine specifically praise Monica?

What happens in the vision at Ostia?

What change occurs in the Confessions after Book IX? Why?

What does Augustine take from Plato in his idea of memory?

What is the difference between the 'life of the body' and the 'life of life?'

What categories of memory does Augustine specify? What are some puzzling features of the type of memories in each category?

How does Augustine account for ideas that are self-evidently true?

How is it possible to seek God if we don't yet know what he is like?

How does Augustine account for universal characteristics in people's idea of the happy life? Why do people fail to find the happy life?

In what ways does Augustine feel he is still sinning at the time of writing the Confessions?

How does Augustine read the following statement from Genesis: 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made.'

In Augustine's reading of Genesis, what is the major difference between God's 'word' and human speech?

How, according to Augustine, is it possible that God is changeless and eternal but his creation is constantly changing over time?

Why did Porphyry claim that God's act of creation was impossible? How does Augustine respond?

Recount Augustine's argument that time does not exist.

What does Augustine mean in claiming that time is not an external phenomenon but rather a condition of the soul?

What is the 'heaven of heaven?'

What is 'formless matter?' How does Augustine say he misunderstood this concept?

Augustine argues that there is no change without form and no time without change. Explain.

How does Augustine respond to potential Catholic critics of his exegesis of Genesis?

What does Augustine say about authorial intention in the bible?

In Augustine's reading of Genesis, what is the relationship between the trinity and the soul?

How does Augustine interpret the command 'increase and multiply'?