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Augustine on Human Nature

5. Interpreting Augustine Today

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About this Lecture


In this module, we look at how we might analyse Augustine in a modern context, without diminishing the authenticity of his work. In particular we look at (i) ideas in Augustine which are common in early Christian thought, such as his asceticism (ii) what is new in Augustine, including his systematic approach and clarity about the effects of original sin on human nature (iii) whether Augustine is pessimistic or optimistic about human nature, and whether this question matters for the credibility of his account of human nature (iv) Augustine’s psychological self-examination in the Confessions (v) which parts of Augustine’s account of human nature are sustainable in terms of our modern day scientific understanding, and different values.


In this course Professor Lewis Ayres (Durham University) explores St. Augustine of Hippo’s views on human nature. In the first module, we introduce Augustine’s views on the experience of human nature, as told through his major works ‘The City of God’ and his ‘Confessions’. After that, we look at Augustinian ideas about the freedom of the will, and the effects of the Fall on the desires of the will. In the third module, we delve deeper into the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and look at how original sin shapes Augustine’s views on humanity after the Fall. We then move on to examine the power of God’s grace, to restore true human nature in an ongoing process. In the fifth module, we look at how we might interpret Augustine today, in a secular world, with a new scientific understanding of the evolutionary origins of humanity. Finally, we explore a bit beyond the curriculum, and think about Augustine’s views on desire and human relationships.


Professor Lewis Ayres is a lecturer in Catholic and Historical Theology at Durham University. His research interests are in Trinitarian theology in Augustine and in the Greek writers of the fourth century. His publications include Augustine and the Trinity (2010), and Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth Century Theology (2004).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Ayres, L. (2022, March 01). Augustine on Human Nature - Interpreting Augustine Today [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ayres, L. "Augustine on Human Nature – Interpreting Augustine Today." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Mar 2022,