According to St. Augustine in his Confessions, what are the sins of infancy? At what age is a person capable of sinning? What are the carnal corruptions St. Augustine talks about? According to St....

According to St. Augustine in his Confessions, what are the sins of infancy? At what age is a person capable of sinning?

What are the carnal corruptions St. Augustine talks about?

According to St. Augustine, what was the worst part of his own act?

What is the symbolic meaning of the garden in St. Augustine's description of his conversion?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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According to St. Augustine, all sin, even infants. As Augustine states, "No one is free from sin in [God's] sight, not even an infant whose span of earthly life is but a single day" (Book I). Augustine goes on further to describe the types of sin that he sees infants as being guilty of. One of those sins can be defined as temper tantrums. As Augustine describes it, he frequently sees infants as being guilty of throwing tantrums when children want something but are denied the thing they want because it will harm them. In response to being denied, the child will try to "hurt many people who know better by hitting out at them as hard as his strength allows," and such a tantrum is of course an act of willful belligerence and disobedience, which are sinful. Augustine also suggests that another possible sin infants commit is being greedy for breast milk, which of course would imply both the sins of gluttony and lust. Gluttony is the sin of being overly indulgent with respect to eating, while lust is the sin of uncontrolled sexual desire, both of which are two of the seven deadly sins.

But what's particularly interesting is the reason why Augustine feels he must view even the infant as a sinner and that has to do with the understanding he is trying to acquire of original sin. Original sin is the doctrine that man's sin stems from the fall of man; in other words, all of mankind sins because Adam sinned. However, this doctrine becomes problematic when we consider the infant to be innocent, especially the unborn baby. Therefore, Augustine attempts to rectify the problem by arguing that "God created only one soul," the soul of Adam, and, therefore, all other human souls are not just genealogical branches of Adam's soul, but actually Adam's same, identical soul ("Saint Augustine: 5. Philosophical Anthropology"). Hence, due to original sin, we are all born with Adam's fallen, sinful soul, which is why it becomes necessary for Augustine to see even infants as sinners.

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