Freedom From Passions in Augustine

by Yuan Gao (Author)
©2017 Monographs XIV, 320 Pages
Series: Religions and Discourse, Volume 60


This book presents the first systematic study of Augustine’s insights into passions as well as his approach to the therapy of emotions and their sanctification. Analysing various phases of Augustine’s writings, this work explores the systematic structure of Augustine’s tenets on emotions and on freedom from passions. The general context is Augustine’s philosophical and theological convictions on the issue of amor sui and amor Dei. Based upon a detailed analysis of original Latin texts and a critical examination of recent research, the author demonstrates how the language and conception of passions are tightly linked with Augustine’s developing views of the philosophical paradigm of emotions and his later theological disputes with schismatics and heretics. In offering a comprehensive account of freedom from passions in Augustine’s theological anthropology, this book makes a creative contribution to his understanding of the moral psychology of passions in social and political dimensions and the idea of the deification of emotions.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Augustine’s Conception of Passions
  • Chapter 3: Control and Moderation of Passions
  • Chapter 4: The Renewal and the Improvement of Passions in Social Life
  • Chapter 5: Becoming God? Redemption through Passion and the Deification of Emotions
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series index

← vi | vii →


Augustine of Hippo, one of the most influential figures in Western Christianity, stands out as a landmark in the history of Western philosophy, theology, political and social life. There is a prominent tradition of studies on Augustine and medieval philosophy and theology at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Helsinki. This book, which explores emotions in Augustine’s theological anthropology, was grounded on that tradition. Many professors, research fellows, and friends have contributed to the formation of this book during my doctoral studies. I owe them my deep gratitude.

I would like to express my greatest thanks to my two brilliant supervisors, Professor Simo Knuuttila and Professor Miikka Ruokanen, who gave me countless invaluable directions and meticulous attention. I am very appreciative of their erudition, intelligence, genius, graciousness, and conscientiousness. I will treasure their guidance as the one of the greatest honours in my academic life.

My sincere thanks also extend to Professor Pekka Kärkkäinen, Professor Pauli Annala, Professor Jaana Hallamaa, Professor Risto Saarinen, Professor Ismo Dunderberg and other faculty teachers who offered generous assistance and encouragement over the years. I am greatly indebted to Professor Antoine Lévy, who acted as both an “unofficial supervisor” and my best friend in daily life. I am also grateful to my wonderful Latin tutor Outi Kaltio, my English reviser Kate Moore, and all my research fellows at the faculty, of whom Jason Lepojärvi, Rope Kojonen, Kalle Kuusniemi, Aku Visala, Heidi Zitting, Suvi Saarelainen, Taina Kalliokoski, Janne Nikkinen, Joona Salminen, and Miika Tucker, in particular, deserve to be singled out. In addition, I wish to extend my gratitude to my pre-examiners Professor Wu Tianyue and Dr Timo Nisula.

James Francis, the series editor of “Religions and Discourse”, offered insightful suggestions for improving the text adaptation, and Lucy Melville, Publishing Director at Peter Lang (Oxford), generously helped to prepare ← vii | viii → this monograph for publication. I thank them and the editorial board for accepting this book.

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to Mr Donald Woods, my faithful American teacher and friend, who has shown steadfast and admirable passion in his support for my monographic studies, as well as helping me polish the English in this book during the final publication process. I will value his language guidance forever.

I am also deeply indebted to the many other people who offered invaluable support from China and other countries: Professor Fang Weilin (Shu Ye), Professor Paulos Huang, Professor Chen Yongtao, Professor You Bin, Professor Wang Ai’ming; as well as our department members at Sun Yat-sen University, such as Professor Chen Jianhong, Professor Kwak Jun-Hyeok, Professor Qian Jie, Dr Luis C. Rodrigues, Dr Tim Beaumont and Dr Susanne Beiweis, among others. Furthermore, it almost goes without saying that I owe my special thanks and love to my family: my father Gao Hongpu, my mother Xu Fenxia, and my younger sister Gao Rong, who unselfishly offered sustained and powerful support during my studies.

I am grateful to the organisations that have contributed to my research: the Helsinki Studium Catholicum, the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society, the Confucius Institute (University of Helsinki), the Chinese Alppila Church, the Suomen Kiinalaisten Allianssi, the Education Office of the Embassy of China in Finland, and Sun Yat-sen University (Department of Philosophy at Zhuhai), among others.

Finally, I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Chinese government and the China Scholarship Council, which appointed me to pursue and achieve my PhD degree at one of the most prestigious European universities, the University of Helsinki, and I am also grateful to Sun Yat-sen University, which provides one of the best international platforms for conducting the Sino-Nordic dialogue in China. I hope the co-operation between China and Finland in the field of philosophy and theology will go deeper and broader from now on.

Gao Yuan (高 源)
Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, May 2017 ← viii | 1 →

← viii | ix →


CCLCorpus Christianorum, Series Latina. Turnhout: Brepols, 1953–.
CSELCorpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. Vienna: Tempsky, 1865–.
NKJVHoly Bible (New King James Version). Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985.
PGPatrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca (ed. J.P. Migne). Paris: Garnier, 1857–66.
PLPatrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina (ed. J.P. Migne). Paris: Garnier, 1844–64.
PLS Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina, Supplementum (ed. A. Hamman). Paris: Garnier, 1958–74.


an. et or.De anima et eius origineOn the Soul and Its Origin
b. coniug.De bono coniugaliOn the Good of Marriage
b. uita De beata uitaOn the Happy Life
bapt.De baptismoOn Baptism
c. Acad.Contra AcademicosAgainst the Skeptics
c. ep. Man.Contra epistulam Manichaei quam uocant fundamentiAgainst the “Foundation Letter” of the Manichees
c. ep. Parm.Contra epistulam ParmenianiAgainst the Letter of Parmenian ← ix | x →
c. ep. Pel.Contra duas epistulas PelagianorumAgainst Two Letters of the Pelagians
c. Faust.Contra Faustum ManichaeumAgainst Faustus a Manichee
c. Gaud.Contra GaudentiumAgainst Gaudentius
c. Iul.Contra IulianumAgainst Julian
c. Iul. imp.Contra Iulianum opus imperfectumAgainst Julian, an Unfinished Book
c. litt. Pet.Contra litteras PetilianiAgainst the Letters of Petilianus
cat. rud.De catechizandis rudibusOn the Instruction of Beginners
CDDe civitate DeiThe City of God
correct.De correctione DonatistarumOn the Correction of the Donatists
corrept.De correptione et gratiaOn Admonition and Grace
De Trin.De TrinitateThe Trinity
doc. Chr.De doctrina ChristianaChristian Teaching
En. Ps.Enarrationes in PsalmosExplanations of the Psalms
ench.Enchiridion ad Laurentium de fide spe et caritateA Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love
ep. Io.In epistulam Ioannis ad Parthos tractatusTractates on the First Letter of John
ex. prop. Rm.Expositio quarumdam propositionum ex epistula apostoli ad RomanosCommentary on Statements in the Letter to the Romans
gest. Pel.De gestis PelagiiOn the Deeds of Pelagius ← x | xi →
Gn. adv. Man.De Genesi adversus ManichaeosOn Genesis, against the Manichees
Gn. litt.De Genesi ad litteramOn the Literal Interpretation of Genesis
gr. et lib. arb.De gratia et libero arbitrioOn Grace and Free Will
gr. et pecc. or.De gratia Christi et de peccato originali On the Grace of Christ and Original Sin
haer.De haeresibusOn Heresies
imm. an.De immortalitate animaeOn the Immortality of the Soul
Io. eu. tr.In Iohannis Euangelium tractatusTractates on the Gospel of John
lib. arb.De libero arbitrioOn Free Will
mag.De magistroOn the Teacher
mor.De moribus ecclesiae catholicae et de moribus ManichaeorumOn the Catholic and the Manichaean Ways of Life
mus.De musicaOn Music
nat. b.De natura boniOn the Nature of the Good
nat. et gr.De natura et gratiaOn Nature and Grace
nupt. et conc.De nuptiis et concupiscentia On Marriage and Concupiscence
op. mon. De opere monachorumOn the Work of Monks
ord.De ordineOn Order
pat.De patientiaOn Patience
pecc. mer. De peccatorum meritis et remissioneOn the Punishment and Forgiveness of Sins
perf. just.De perfectione justitiae hominisOn the Perfection of Human Righteousness
persev.De dono perseverantiaeOn the Gift of Perseverance ← xi | xii →
praed. sanct. De praedestinatione sanctorumOn the Predestination of the Saints
ps. c. Don.Psalmus contra partem DonatiPsalm against the Donatists
qu.Quaestiones in HeptateuchumQuestions on the Heptateuch
quant. anim.De quantitate animaeOn the Greatness of the Soul
s. Dom. mon. De sermone Domini in monteOn the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount
s. uirg.De sancta uirginitateOn Holy Virginity
spir. et litt.De spiritu et litteraOn the Spirit and the Letter
uera rel.De uera religioneOn True Religion
util. cred.De utilitate credendi On the Advantage of Believing

Other Authors


XIV, 320
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (August)
Augustine emotions freedom from passions
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. XIV, 320 pp., 2 table/s.

Biographical notes

Yuan Gao (Author)

Gao Yuan (高 源), PhD in Philosophy and Theology (2015) from the University of Helsinki, Finland, is currently a Research Associate at the Department of Philosophy (Zhuhai), Sun Yat-sen University. His main interests lie in the study of Augustine and Medieval Studies, Dogmatics and Systematic Theology, as well as the Comparative Studies of Sino-Nordic Philosophy and Religions.


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335 pages