What is the self, according to Augustine in Confessions?

According to Augustine in Confessions, the self can only be conceived and understood in relation to God. God has made humans for Himself, and the heart of man will remain restless until it finds its rest in the Almighty. Self-realization, then, depends on the proper relationship between man and God.

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Augustine believed that the self existed in two parts: the body and the soul. The body existed physically in the world and was subject to physical needs and desires. The soul, on the other hand, was the seat of consciousness and connected to God. The soul could be purified by turning towards God, and, in so doing, it could assert its rightful role as master of the body.

More specifically, Augustine saw the human mind as a kind of crude copy of the Trinity. Augustine thought that the three-part nature of God shaped human cognition. For instance, one part of this triad would be objects external to the self; a second part would be the mental process of recognizing the object; the third would be the volition or intentionality that causes this recognition.

Man's self awareness of his own cognitive abilities is vital to Augustine's theory of the self. It is because the self has a "memory of itself"—or, in other words, is aware of its own existence apart from the body and other...

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