chapter  XIX
18 Pages

The Figure of Love in Augustine and in Proclus the Neoplatonist

ByMark Edwards

A Christian theology, of the eros-type condemned by Nygren—a theology which is not that of Augustine—might be educed from Proclus by the substitution of God for the One, the Bible for and Christ for Socrates. This chapter argues that this theology would not be that of Augustine, who was sanguine enough to think that he could discover the eternal Word in Plato, but not (as he admits in his Confessions) the Word made flesh. The chapter is at most an annotation to Nygren, not a refutation of his main thesis. The Confessions is what the First Alcibiades was to a Neoplatonist — a comedy of two lovers, of whom one embodies plenitude, the other a misdirected love that at first is not even conscious of its poverty. What divides the Christians from the Platonists in their understanding of love is not a difference in the meaning of the terms employed, but a difference in their concepts of the first principle.