PLOTINIAN 'TOLMA' AND THE FALL OF THE SOUL IN THE EARLY PHILOSOPHY OF ST. AUGUSTINE

NATALE JOSEPH TORCHIA, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation tests, from one particular perspective, the hypothesis that the Enneads of Plotinus provide the philosophical matrix within which St. Augustine of Hippo articulated one feature of his early theory of human beings as "fallen souls." This perspective focuses precisely upon Augustine's understanding of the triadic character of primal sin and its relationship to the soul's fall. My analysis determines the extent to which Plotinian tolma (the term which designates the prime motive for differentiation, the initiation of temporal process, and the soul's descent) provides a means of illuminating Augustine's triad of pride (superbia), curiosity (curiositas), and carnal concupiscence (concupiscentia carnis). I prescind from the issue as to whether Augustine meant "fall of the soul" in strict Plotinian terms. This issue is not a part of the burden of proof which I wish to bear. Rather, I confine my analysis to the problematic motive for the soul's fall in Augustine's early works (and the Confessiones) and its Plotinian heritage.^ My analysis advances on two levels. First, I consider the grounds which exist for assuming that Plotinus provided the most likely philosophical source for Augustine's interpretation of the roots of iniquity or primal evil. Secondly, I examine the creative process whereby Augustine interpreted certain Plotinian insights in Christian terms and adapted them to suit his own diverse philosophical purposes. I demonstrate that the metaphysical and epistemological import of Augustine's triad emerges when it is viewed from a Plotinian perspective.^ The first part of the study investigates the import of Plotinian tolma, analyzing its role in the Enneads, its relation to other fall motives, and its meaning within the Plotinian scheme as a whole. The second part of the study analyzes the triadic character of iniquity in Augustine's writings (386-c. 400 A.D.) from a Plotinian perspective. After examining the genetic development of the triad and its emergence as an organizing principle in its own right, I establish the affinities between Plotinian tolma and the triadic members. In conclusion, I establish the validity of the hypothesis under scrutiny and evaluate the adequacy of Augustine's Christian Philosophy. ^

Subject Area

Philosophy

Recommended Citation

NATALE JOSEPH TORCHIA, "PLOTINIAN 'TOLMA' AND THE FALL OF THE SOUL IN THE EARLY PHILOSOPHY OF ST. AUGUSTINE" (January 1, 1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8714591.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8714591

Share

COinS