Although it is widely acknowledged that St. Augustine was a consummate artist as well as a great philosopher, and that he was deeply concerned with art, beauty and human values, relatively little attention has been paid to his theory of aesthetics. Now a distinguished Augustine scholar turns to this important subject and offers a book that is at once engaging, comprehensive and complete.
Father Robert O’Connell begins with a paradox: how could so dedicated a literary artist propose, at times, a theory of art that amounts to the banishment of art? In attempting to answer this and other important questions, the author’s purpose is not merely to recount but to retrieve St. Augustine’s views. He suggests that Augustine’s need to understand, and by understanding to exorcise, art’s spell on him provides a key to all the philosophical and theological questions that absorbed him. Seen in this light, St. Augustine’s aesthetic may lie at the very heart of his philosophy.