Confession / St. Sugustine. Analysis of memory in Augustine's confessions.

Essay by ronnieselaUniversity, Bachelor'sB, February 2003

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In book X of Augustine's confessions, Augustine focuses on the world's existence in God. He follows this goal through the examination of memory; its relation to the self and its powers. St. Augustine focuses on memory as an unconscious knowledge, which eventually leads him to his knowledge of God. Augustine is no longer telling events of the past, but only of present time.

Augustine begins his analysis of memory in a description of a house, "a storehouse for countless images of all kinds which are conveyed to it by the senses" (X: chapter 8, 214). The storehouse is a place where objects are deposited, retrieved, and re-stored; just like our memory where images are kept, and in need recovered. Augustine gives a characterization of memory as if it were almost materialistic; it is reliable, everything has it's own place in it, and it can contain unlimited information. Memory exists in all things in the past, present and no one can take it away from us.

Augustine considers the nature of images that are stored in the memory. These images can be tested, heard, seen, felt, and smelled; all without the actual objects being present. Everything becomes a memory; the smells of flowers, darkness, and the sound of songs. Memories are experienced just as the senses allow them to be experienced, "distinguish between hard and soft, hot and cold, rough and smooth, heavy and light and it can be applied to things which are inside the body as to those outside of it" (X: chapter 8, 214). Memories exist in all time of day or night; colors can be seen in the dark, as well as sounds in the silence. In addition, memory can be summoned at will. One only has to recall whatever the item or the sense is that...