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Augustine: Philosopher and Saint

Here, it is depicted with one spatial dimension. The dream of time travel has been alive since antiquity. Paleolithic people may have even thought about it, however there are no clear resources to support this to date. Yet, it is known that Paleolithic people knew about time because they expressed the phenomena of time passing in their cave art. The idea of time travel has been an important topic for many famous physicists, philosophers, etc. Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and many others tried to solve this problem.

There were also many experiments for example the controversial Philadelphia experiment , which are still discussed by scientists. There are as many enthusiasts as there is a lack of evidence that time travel can or does take place.

Saint Augustine (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Most people who think about time travel are inspired by emotions, for example the need to see loved ones who passed away once more. However, some people search for the possibility of time travel for other reasons such as curiosity about the future. Movies, books, and TV series talking about this theme are very popular. Every year, someone says that humanity is just one step away from passing through the mysterious gates of time. Source: Public Domain. Natalia Klimczak is an historian, journalist and writer.

She worked for Ancient Orgins from December until April The now, was is in the past, that which comes. To control the present, you write the past. In writing the past, you can control the present. In controlling the present, this allows you to dictate the future. It is difficult to control the individual. I always felt that the actual moment we experience and live in, is like an audio or video recording. The recording media is blank to begin with, representing the future and at the moment of recording, the images and sounds are recorded leaving a record that can be played back, representing the past.

The First Philosophers (A History of Western Thought 1)

So in that sense we can only ever travel in time backwards in our mind only and at best recreate the moments we have once lived in our mind by watching and listening to the recording. The future remains always unknown and unpredictable. It only can become reality at the moment of now and then turn into the past the very next moment. Ancient Origins has been quoted by:.

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If we were allowed, when we departed from this life, to live an immortal life in the Isles of the Blessed, as legends tell, what need would we have of eloquence — if there would be no trials — or even of virtues themselves? For indeed, we would not need fortitude, for we would not be exposed to any toil or danger; nor justice, for there would be nothing of anybody else's to be desired; nor temperance to govern desires that would not exist. We would not even need prudence, for we would not be exposed to the choice between good and evil. We should be blessed, therefore, solely with the knowledge of nature and science by which alone also the life of the gods is to be praised.

Passing Through the Gates of Time: The Mind, Time Travel, and St Augustine

Hence we may deduce that everything else is subject to necessity, but only this one to will. Cicero refers here to the topos of life in the Isles of the Blessed 16 as a mythical example in order to point out, firstly, that happiness consists in the knowledge of nature and in the science by which the life of the gods is praised and, secondly, that that happy life i.


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Thereby the following concatenation of ideas can be detected: virtues are subordinated to the knowledge of nature, nature being conceived in the widest sense; this knowledge is regarded as a source of happiness, 18 which is an end in and of itself, and therefore subject to choice, but not to necessity, unlike virtues, which are necessary for an ulterior end; finally, it is suggested that this cognitive happiness makes human life similar to that of the gods.

In this way, Cicero gathers the inheritance of previous philosophers who thought that the happy life consisted of knowledge and science.


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  6. Finally, he refers to the topos of the Isles of the Blessed:. And so, the ancient philosophers picture what the life of the wise will be in the Isles of the Blessed, who, released from all anxiety, needing none of the necessary equipment or accessories of life, think about doing nothing else but spend their whole time upon inquiry and learning about the knowledge of nature. This text helps us to understand some points in the passage from the Hortensius. First, when Cicero talks about the knowledge and science of nature, he seems to refer to a continuous, diligent, and disinterested search for the truth, not to its definitive possession, which effectively reflects his Academic skepticism.

    However, the immediate source of the ideas reflected in the passages from the Hortensius is Aristotle's Protrepticus , as has been recognized, in general, in modern times. Both were inherently desirable, not for the sake of something else like the necessary things. In these Isles there is indeed no need of anything, nor can one get any benefit from anything other than the exercise of thought and contemplation, which is what wisdom entails:.

    To seek from all knowledge a result other than itself, and to require that it must be useful, is the demand of someone completely ignorant of the distance that from the start separates things good from things necessary, for indeed they differ greatly. If this is true, would not any one of us be rightly ashamed if when granted the possibility to live in the Isles of the Blessed, he were by his own fault unable to do so? Therefore the reward given to men who pursue knowledge is not to be despised, nor slight the good that comes from it, for as, according to the wise among the poets, we receive the rewards of justice in Hades, so, it would seem, we reap those of wisdom in the Isles of the Blessed.

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    In the passage from Cicero, the traditional image of the Isles of the Blessed is also exploited for its exemplary effect. It shows the same eagerness to distinguish what is necessary from what is good by subordinating the former to the latter, the same will to urge knowledge as the object of the happy life, and the same protreptical intention for the exhortation to philosophy.

    However, Cicero prefers to put special emphasis on the role that ethical virtues play in the present life and their insignificance for the ideal of a contemplative life, similar in its happiness to that of the gods, whereas Aristotle does not compare knowledge and wisdom, characteristic of a happy life, with the ethical virtues. On the contrary, he presents them as the only activity worthy of being deemed blissful.

    In this sense, Cicero also seems to draw inspiration from a passage of the Nicomachean Ethics , 32 wherein Aristotle, in order to illustrate the conclusion that perfect happiness lies in contemplative activity, demonstrates that this is the only activity to be attributable to the gods by means of the reduction to the absurd of the alternative thesis, which is to make happiness lie in the exercise of the ethical virtues. We do not have enough information to assert, as Jaeger 36 does, that the Iamblichus text, from which the Aristotelian Protrepticus passage is taken, had summarized the original content, omitting the exclusion of the ethical virtues in the supreme state of happiness characteristic of the contemplative life, whereas the Hortensius, which does refer to them, would reflect with more exactitude the tenor of the Protrepticus text.

    The passage quoted from the Ethics cannot be offered as proof, contrary to Jaeger's pretensions, for there is no reason to suppose that Aristotle drew his inspiration from the Protrepticus when he wrote it, instead of using a parallel argument to support a similar thesis — that is, the superiority of intellective knowledge as the object of a happy life.

    As for the use Augustine makes of Cicero's words, the former adapts them from the protreptical context wherein they were written to another one of a theological character, where the aim is to elucidate whether the four cardinal virtues — prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice — will disappear in the future life.

    Quite the opposite, he admits that they can survive in the happiness of the eternal life as long as they are not understood according to the actions characteristic of them in this life, but only as vestiges present in memory that will be known and loved, forming in the soul a sort of image of the Holy Trinity, comprising memory, knowledge, and will. The second passage that Augustine quoted from the Hortensius , and wherein we can see Aristotelian traces, is in his work Contra Iulianum 4.

    Those offenses and miseries of human life sometimes cause that those ancient seers or interpreters of the divine mind who transmit the sacred rites and initiations, who said that we are born to atone with punishment for the crimes committed in a previous life, appear to have seen something, and that it is true what we read in Aristotle, that we suffer a punishment similar to that of those who, in times past, when they fell into the hands of Etruscan pirates, were murdered with ingenious cruelty: their bodies, the living with the dead, were tied face-to-face as close as possible; thus our souls, bonded to their bodies, are like the living bonded to the dead.

    This passage belongs to the final part of the Ciceronian dialogue, wherein the vanity and misery of human life — attached to the passions of the body and origin of the evils of man — are mentioned in distinct contrast with a philosophical life consecrated to the knowledge of nature and the exercise of virtues. That contrast, based on the opposition between the immortal and divine soul, rational principle and source of wisdom, and the mortal body, cause of limitations, errors, and vices, is illustrated here by a mythical explanation and a historical simile. Both the mythical explanation, according to which the present life is a divine punishment for the offenses committed in a previous life, and the historical simile the existence of the soul in the body is like the torture the Etruscans inflicted upon their prisoners, consisting of tying the living face-to-face with the dead achieve the same purpose: the undervaluing of the present life with all its superficiality, futility, and transitoriness, as a way of extolling, by contrast, an alternative way of life based on knowledge and wisdom so that it can be presented as a superior, divine way of life and, therefore, worthy of being lived.


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    Cicero's text, with both its mythical explanation and its historical example, is based on a passage of Aristotle's Protrepticus that must also have been, like the Ciceronian passage, part of the conclusion of the work, wherein the reference was introduced to the rites that taught that life is the result of a punishment for great offenses committed in the long distant past, and also the simile that illustrates the ordeal of the Etruscan pirates although Cicero names only Aristotle in relation to the latter.

    Which of us, looking to these facts, would think himself happy and blessed if all of us are from the very beginning as those who chant initiations say shaped by nature as though for punishment? For the ancients say that this is divine, to assert that the soul suffers punishment and that we live for the atonement of great offenses. For, indeed, the marriage of the soul with the body looks very much like this.

    For as the Etruscans are said often to torture captives by chaining dead bodies face-to-face with the living, fitting part to part, so the soul seems to be extended throughout and affixed to all the sensitive members of the body. We can see indeed the same description of life as a punishment, although Aristotle specifies that it is not man as such but his soul that lives, punished, incarnated in a body. These writers were authors of theogonies and cosmogonies attributed to the mythical Orpheus, 44 wherein it was taught that the human soul lived yoked to the body as if the latter were a grave as punishment for ancient offenses.

    The ancient theologians and seers also give testimony of it: in order to comply with certain punishment, the soul is yoked to the body and is buried in it as though in a sepulcher. In this case it seems that Cicero paraphrases, trusting in certain knowledge of the Orphic doctrines, according to which the original sin of the Titans was transmitted to the human souls, who had to go through a cycle of successive reincarnations to atone for that innate stain.

    Augustine, for his part, quotes the fragment of Cicero with other ends and within a different context.