Disciplina et veritas: Augustine on Truth and the Liberal Arts

Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

In one of his earliest dialogues, the Soliloquia, Augustine identifies the liberal arts (disciplinae) with truth (veritas), and employs this somewhat puzzling identification as a premise in his infamous proof of the immortality of the soul (Sol. 2.24). In this paper, I examine Augustine’s argument for this peculiar identification. Augustine maintains both (1) that the constituent propositions of the liberal arts are true, and (2) that the liberal art of dialectic (disciplina disputandi) is the “truth through which all disciplines are true” (Sol. 2.21). I argue that Augustine identifies the liberal arts with truth because (1) the constituent propositions of the liberal arts are learned, and (2) dialectic’s structure is essential to the liberal arts. I further suggest that the subject matter of each liberal art reflects a distinct segment of intelligible reality, that is, the realm of the intelligible Forms.

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Vikram Kumar
Cornell University

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