What does St. Augustine in his Confessions define as the sins of infancy and the age of sinning capability?

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St. Augustine argues in Book 1, Chapters 6 and 7 of Confessions that sin begins at birth. Yes, even infants are sinful. He believes that original sin is shared by all humans, regardless of age. The selfishness inherent in original sin can be observed in the tantrums and crying fits that babies have. Babies will even try to harm others when they do not get their way. St. Augustine attributes the sins of greed and lust to an infant's desire for its mother's milk. They cry and thrash out when they want it, but it is not immediately given. They might even desire to hurt others to get it, only they are incapable of causing true harm due to their physical weakness. However, Augustine observes that their intentions are still sinful.

"The actions of a child who begs tearfully for objects that would harm him if given, gets into a tantrum when free persons, older persons and his parents, will not comply with his whims, and tries to hurt many people who know better by hitting out at them as hard as his strength allows, simply because they will not immediately fall in with his wishes or obey his commands, which would damage him if carried out?"

St. Augustine admits that he does not know whether or not a person inherits original sin before birth. Does a person and the sins they carry exist at conception, birth, or some time before? St. Augustine writes that such matters are known only to God. Since he has no memory of infancy and the time before birth, God has kept such matters a mystery.

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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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