The Socratic Augustine

Author: Matthews, Gareth B.

Source: Metaphilosophy, Volume 29, Number 3, July 1998 , pp. 196-208(13)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Augustine is both one of the great dogmatic thinkers in our Western tradition and also one of the most Socratic. How can that be? I suggest that Augustine is given to puzzling over questions of the form “How is it possible that p?”– for example, “How is it possible to measure time when no length of time is ever present to be measured?” Moreover, he asks questions of this form even when he is in no doubt that p is the case. (Thus he is in no doubt that we can measure periods of time even though, strictly speaking, no period of time is ever present.) I suggest further that we can learn something about good teaching from studying Augustine's Socratic-style inquiry.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts/Amherst, Bartlett Hall, Amherst, MA 01003, USA

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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