Excerpt from an Article on Knowledge by the Rev. Dr. Robert
...The argument which seeks knowledge of God must therefore move
beyond the useful temporalia of the external Word and seek the Word
within. The soul must turn to itself, to its own intellect, "by which
we grasp sapientia, so far as we are able" (Trin. 5.1.2).
In that inner reflection upon the Word, the soul discovers itself as image
of the Trinity, as like in species to that which it knows (Trin.
7.6.12); and that discovery constitutes the basis of the argument of the
last eight books of De Trinitate. The argument is not by way of
analogy from the soul to God (an approach explicitly rejected at the
beginning of the treatise), but from God to the soul. On the analogy
of the Holy Trinity the soul comes to know itself as the unity of its
distinct personal powers of being, knowing, loving, or memory, intellect,
From that standpoint the succession of analogies which occupies
the later books of De Trinitate should not be regarded as a series of
more or less plausible psychological illustrations, but rather as a
progressive reflection of images, whereby the mind seeks to dispose itself
more and more toward its own true centre, reforming itself to the divine
image, which is its own true nature, until it comes to know itself as
nothing other than memoria Dei, intellectus Dei, voluntas dei
(14.15-18). Thus self-knowledge and knowledge of God stand in a
dialectical relationship; the soul turns inward, to itself, in order to
ascend to the knowledge of God; but that knowledge, in turn, involves a
profoundly reformed self-knowledge, a radically new conception of the
structure of human personality as an essential unity and equality of the
personal powers of memory, intellect, and will.
conception of the life of the soul has far-reaching implications for the
theory of knowledge. "The mind itself, its love and its knowledge are
three things, and these three are one; and when they are perfect they are
equal" (9.4.4). As Father and Son are joined by the bond of love who
is the Holy Spirit, just so in the life of the soul it is the will, or love,
which unites the knowing subject and the object known (14.6.8). In
Augustine's view, there is no knowing without loving, and no loving without
knowing: they belong equally to the one essence of the mind (9.2.2).
As in the trinitarian paradigm there is a logical order whereby the
begetting of the Word precedes the proceeding of the Spirit, so also in
human knowledge there is an analogous logical order of the moments of
knowing and willing, which does not vitiate, however, their essential
equality. For Augustine, the highest wisdom is a perfect unity of
knowledge and love...