By Saint, Bishop of Hippo Augustine
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Extra resources for Against the Academicians
Do not despise this name because of the meaning usually ascribed to it. For philocalia and philosophy have been named as though they almost belonged to the same family and they wish to appear as in a single line of descent, so to speak, and they actually are. For what is philosophy? Love of wisdom. What is philocalia? 12 Ask this question of the Greeks. What, then, is wisdom? Is it not true beauty? Therefore, they are truly sisters born of the same parent; but the former, brought down from her place in heaven by the attraction of wanton desire, and enclosed within an ordinary cave, still retained the likeness in name to remind the fowler not to despise her.
You wonder at my words and perhaps you even smile at them. What if I should explain them to you as I have been wanting to do? What if at least the voice of philosophy herself could be heard, even if up to the present time her beautiful form could not be seen by you? You would, indeed, wonder at her but you would not ridicule her, you would not be without hope; take my word for it, you ought not give up hope in regard to anything but 12 Augustine seems to have been familiar with Plato's Symposium.
14 Augustine probably refers to the unity of subject matter in these three books. They all trent of Aeneas'experiences at the court of Queen Dido. Page 38 have asked me about the Academicians lest I permit you to be pondering over those poetic forms, not only at banquets which have nothing to do with metre, but even at our disputations. ' V. 11. 'I shall discuss the subject honestly,' I said, 'as you rightly prescribe. The Academicians are of the opinion that knowledge cannot be attained by man in so far as those things are concerned which pertain to philosophyfor Carneades said he did not care about other mattersand yet that man can be wise and that the whole duty of a wise man is accomplished in seeking truth, a statement which was also made by you, Licentius, in your argument; the conclusion is that the wise man should not assent to anything; for the fact that it is wrong for a wise man to assent to things that are uncertain, makes it necessary that he be in error.