Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Teske, Roland J.

Second Advisor

Wreen, Michael J.

Third Advisor

Twetten, David B.


This essay treats Augustine's sensible aesthetic. Four significant works were written in the 20th Century on his aesthetic theory: Karel Svoboda 's L'Esthetique de saint Augustin et ses sources. Ernrnanual Chapman's St. Augustine's Philosophy of Beauty, Robert J. O'connell's Art and the Christian Intelligence in St. Augustine, and Carol Harrison's Beauty and Revelation in the Thought of St. Augustine. This essay attempts to put to rest two unresolved questions that arise regarding Augustine's theory of sensible beauty from the line of thought that begins with Svoboda and ends with Harrison: "Does Augustine regard sensible beauty as legitimate beauty, worthy of consideration, appreciation, and study; and, if so, what is its ultimate character?" It is helpful, I think, to indicate what aspects of Augustine's thought I do not intend to deal with. I will not consider, strictly speaking, his theological. epistemological, metaphysical, political, or ethical views. Nor will I examine his theory of language and signs, his views on free will and determinism, or his theory of biblical exegesis. More often than not, commentators deal with Augustine's aesthetic only as it relates to these other issues. In contrast, I will concentrate on his theory of beauty. In particular, I will treat his theory of the beauty of artworks and nature. My aim is to demonstrate that Augustine values sensible beauty and that his notion of unity fundamentally explains this kind of beauty. Of course, I will address other, non-aesthetic, issues as they incidentally relate to this topic. My chief aim, however, is to locate and lay bare Augustine's sensible aesthetic.



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