Saint Augustine, Proto-Austrian
In a past Mises Wire article, I’ve written about how Saint Thomas Aquinas’s definition of hope correlates incredibly well with what Carl Menger would describe in his definition a good six centuries later. This trend of religious figures like Aquinas and his later followers, the late Spanish scholastics, discovering economic truths despite studying theology, not economics, can be found often throughout the course of history. Tom Woods has explained this by stating:
One of the characteristic features of Catholic thought over the centuries has been its emphasis on reason. Man’s mind, according to this tradition, is capable of apprehending a world of order that exists outside itself. Man is able to abstract “universals” from the myriad objects and sense data that appear to him and thus bring order to the chaos of mere data above which mere brutes can never ascend.
However, it feels easy to apply this emphasis on reason to these scholastics. They were of a very scholarly (as the name scholastic implies) tradition, so it makes sense that whatever they study, they would likely happen upon economic truths. I’d like to take Woods’s reasoning that this thought leads to economic discoveries and apply it instead to the fourth-century mystic Saint Augustine.
To fully appreciate Saint Augustine’
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