Original Research - Special Collection: Medieval Philosophy and Theology

Against discontinuity: Augustine’s theory of happiness reconsidered

Teng He
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 4 | a7682 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7682 | © 2022 Teng He | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 2022 | Published: 22 August 2022

About the author(s)

Teng He, School of Philosophy, Fudan University, Shanghai, China


In research on Augustine, Peter Brown’s paradigm of ‘two Augustines’ has been widely used. According to Brown, Augustine experienced a shift from optimism to pessimism. In his earlier works, Augustine held that humans could achieve happiness in this life by reason. In contrast, in his later works, Augustine emphasised grace, original sin and the imperfection of life. Against Brown’s framework, this paper argues that Augustine does not experience a pessimistic turn. Augustine holds that humans can achieve happiness through faith, hope and love.

Contribution: This article explores Augustine’s theory of happiness and revises the ‘two Augustines’ paradigm. On the one hand, Augustine does not deny the freedom of will. On the other hand, Augustine is confident in happiness through faith, hope and love.


Augustine; De beata vita; De civitate Dei; Peter Brown; Kurt Flasch; two Augustines paradigm


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doi: 10.4102/hts.v78i4.8022