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Habitus According to Augustine: Philosophical Tradition and Biblical Exegesis

  • Isabelle Bochet
Chapter
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 7)

Abstract

The present chapter deals with the use of the term habitus in Augustine’s works and the features of the concept or concepts this term designates. It demonstrates that Augustine conforms to the classical usage of his time. He does not treat the words habitus and consuetudo as equivalent, but uses them in distinct senses. He twice quotes Cicero’s definition of virtus as a habitus animi, in question 31 of the 83 Diverse Questions and in Contra Iulianum, but he seldom refers to it in the rest of his works, apart from De bono coniugali, probably because this definition was not really suitable for demonstrating that virtue is primarily a gift of God. Augustine also uses the term habitus as pertaining to the category of accidents in question 73 of the 83 Diverse Questions and in book 5 of De Trinitate. In these texts Augustine shows that he had a detailed knowledge of Aristotle’s Categories, which he probably knew through the Latin paraphrase called the Categoriae decem. The chapter explains that the difficulties raised by the use of the word habitus in Philippians 2:7 to speak of Christ (habitu inventus est ut homo), which is the topic of question 73, are linked to the fact that Augustine interpreted it on his own as equivalent to the Greek word hexis used by Aristotle in the Categories.

Keywords

Habitus Consuetudo Virtue Change Category Accident Incarnation Augustine Aristotle Cicero Julian of Eclanum 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabelle Bochet
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes (PSL, CNRS, UMR 8584)Villejuif CedexFrance

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