Anthropology for Augustine was based on the truth that humanity was created in the image of God.
Augustine affirms that the world was created by God out of nothing, through a free act of God.
He then affirms the absolute unity and the spiritual nature of the human soul.
He affirms that the soul is simple and immortal.
The soul has three functions: being, understanding, and loving, corresponding to three faculties: intellective memory, intelligence, and will.
The primary place among these three faculties is given to the will, which in a human being signifies love. The will of a human person is free.
Even with free will, the soul is restless. This prompts the soul to search for meaning, and ultimately for God.
This divine spark in the human race is the source of a spiritual unease (restlessness) that will remain until a person returns to God after death.
The opening lines in his Confessions announce the world view and his anthropology of Augustine to all who read his words: "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."
After his search through various philosophies and theologies, Augustine came to a view of human nature (an "anthropology") that was thoroughly Christian.
For Augustine, therefore, anthropology had a spiritual role.
It was meant to discern way of using basic human nature most profitably in accord with what God intended
He stated that by its own power the human species could not arrive at a correct insight into human life because this required the light of Christian belief.
Augustine accepted a fallen and flawed human nature that was without hope if it did not have the grace of God.
The tolerance of Augustine for the weakness of human nature contrasted sharply with the Stoic puritanism of Pelagianism which allowed no excuse for personal sin.
For Augustine, true freedom was achieved only through a long process by which the knowledge and will of an individual are healed by the grace of God (gratia Dei, in Latin).
This conforms with the world view of Augustine regarding how the human race fitted into the Divine Plan, and how the priorities of God for us had precedence over our own desires.
In comparison with the times of Augustine and the other early Church Fathers (scholars), people today can have an increasingly clearer perception of individual rights, and of the autonomy of the created world from its Creator.
In the time of Augustine it was impossible for him to speak of the human race or of a world view in any other way than by placing God at the centre of the discussion.
And such an anthropological view, which was common to all early Fathers (scholars) of the Church, cannot be taken in isolation from Christian theology.
This is because it both colours and is coloured by the Christian doctrine about creation, original sin, the relationship of soul and body, the grace (gratia) of God, sexual relationships, everyday living, and death - to name but a few key areas.
(Continued on the next page.)