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Augustine and Academic SkepticismA Philosophical Study$
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Blake D. Dutton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452932

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452932.001.0001

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Happiness, Wisdom, and the Insufficiency of Inquiry

Happiness, Wisdom, and the Insufficiency of Inquiry

(p.49) Chapter 3 Happiness, Wisdom, and the Insufficiency of Inquiry
Augustine and Academic Skepticism

Blake D. Dutton

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Augustine of Hippo's rejection of the Socratic ideal of the good life and his belief that wisdom was a type of knowledge necessary to happiness. Augustine was unimpressed with Socrates's ideal of the good life. This was the ideal of a life dedicated to philosophical inquiry that leads to wisdom, not as expert knowledge of practical or speculative matters, but rather as awareness of ignorance. In the case of the Academics, such wisdom manifests itself, not only in disavowals of knowledge, but also in acts of withholding assent. This chapter considers Augustine's lengthy analysis and refutation of the good life at the outset of his critique of Academic skepticism by focusing on an exercise that he set for his students Licentius and Trygetius, while they were under his tutelage at Cassiciacum. More specifically, it explores Augustine's charge that the Academics are not happy and wise in their philosophical practice. Finally, it looks at Augustine's own account of the happy life.

Keywords:   happiness, Augustine of Hippo, Socrates, good life, wisdom, knowledge, philosophical inquiry, Academics, Academic skepticism, happy life

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