Love of Love, and Thus of Pain: Misguided Reasoning in 'The Confessions' College

The Confessions illustrates many times through which Saint Augustine appears to desire and pursue pain throughout his life, made especially clear in the beginning of Book III. His apparent desire for pain is a surprising concept for a man who so blatantly writes in On Teaching Christianity that one cannot hate himself. Both Augustine in his Confessions and Breyfogle in A Reader’s Companion to Augustine’s Confessions give insights on the nature of this complex and counterintuitive pursuit of pain, giving three reasons: the attempt to satisfy internal hunger with external joys, personal guilt, and a love of self. All three of these reasons are misguided and focused on the sin of curiositas, further illuminating his true desire for Wisdom, Goodness, and thus for God.

In the second paragraph of Reader’s Companion to Augustine’s Confessions, Breyfogle summarizes his first answer to the grand question of why Augustine appears to seek out pain: “The ‘restless heart’ of Confessions’ opening lines (Conf. 1.1.1) takes pleasure in pain because it mistakenly conceives its inward hunger as an external hunger to be satisfied externally”. Augustine can be seen throughout the first half of The Confessions attempting to satisfy his inward...

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