In Book One of his composition on free will and human action, Augustine defines authority, and wisdom. According to Augustine, wisdom arises from an ordered soul operating in synthesis with the pursuit of virtue. Alternatively, authority he splits between temporal and eternal jurisdictions.
“The law of the people merely institutes penalties sufficient for keeping the peace among ignorant human beings, and only to the extent that their actions can be regulated by human government. But those other faults deserve other penalties that I think Wisdom alone can repeal.
“If a people is well-ordered and serious minded, and carefully watches over the common good, and everyone in it values private affairs less than the public interests, is it not right to enact a law that allows this people to choose their own magistrates to look after their interests – that is, the public interest?
“When reason, mind, or spirit controls the irrational impulses of the soul, a human being is ruled by the very thing that ought to rule according to the law that we have found to be eternal.
“For I reserve the term ‘wise’ for those whom truth demands should be called wise, those who have achieved peace by placing all inordinate desire under the control of the mind.
“What is a good will? It is a will by which we desire to live upright and honorable lives and to attain the highest wisdom.
*All excerpts have been taken from On Free Choice of the Will, Hackett Publishing Company.
On Free Will – Augustine
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