عنوان مقاله [English]
“According to “Confessions,” what is the root of the pessimistic view of St. Augustine and other first Christian philosophers on desire and pleasure, and why does this philosopher think that pleasures are evil?” This article is going to provide some insights about this question.Augustine believes that “the delight of loving God” is the one and only real pleasure, and all other earthly pleasures are considered as evil. But why are earthly pleasures evil? Augustine explains this from three different aspects:
At first glance, it seems that Augustine blames some ignorance or perceptual (or cognitive) limitation for the deviation of pleasure and desire. Although this theory is consistent with some parts of “Confessions,” it is not consistent with the other parts. Augustine believes that even the pleasures and desires of children are evil. This clearly shows that in his philosophy, the evil of physical pleasure is not related to perceptual errors or ignorance. It seems that even the instincts are evil, and Augustine thinks these basic desires (instincts) are not perceptual.
According to Confession’s text, Augustine believes in “original sin” and considers it as the cause of the deviation of the desires and pleasures of human beings. This Christian doctrine says that everyone is born sinful. Original sin is the guilt of disobedience to God passed on from Adam and Eve to all subsequent generations. Because of this disobedience, human pleasures and desires also became sinful. Although this theory justifies the issue in many cases, it cannot cover all the problems. If Augustine attributes the evil of human pleasure and desire only to the “original sin,” then he must always regard human desires and “needs” as evil. But he emphasizes in book 10th of “Confessions” that some prophets, such as “Noah” and “John the Baptist,” would eat any meat they wanted to satisfy their needs and never deviated, but “Esau” deviated once he consumed lentils.
“greed” can be cited as the cause of the diversion of desires and pleasures. According to the holy Bible, the snake first seduced Eve, and then Eve seduced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. What the snake did with Eve was nothing except arousing his greed. In fact, Adam and Eve became sinful due to their greed. It is clear that what caused them to be exiled from Eden was the desire (greed) they had before the descent and original sin.
It should be noted that the above three answers are all the causes of deviation, but each one is itself the cause of another. In other words, human greed is the cause of the original sin, and the original sin is the cause of ignorance, error, and deviation of pleasure and desire. And these three causes (on three different levels) explain the deviation in our pleasures, inclinations, and desires.