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Metaphysical Form in Ancient and Medieval Thought

Forms As Divine Ideas In St. Augustine

The next important step in the development of the notion form was provided by St. Augustine of Hippo's (354–430) Neoplatonic Christian conception. For Augustine, Forms are universal exemplars, just as they are for Plato, but they are not Plato's mind-independent models of various species, for they are the archetypes of creation in the Divine Mind. The Divine Ideas are the models for creatures in the eternal thought of God. Therefore, Augustine argues, a moment of understanding some eternal truth is but a glimpse into divine thought granted to humans by God in an act of illumination. Augustine's conception powerfully combined Christian teaching with elements of Platonic philosophy, but it raised a number of new questions. Especially, in epistemology, it raised the issue of why a natural capacity of the human mind, namely, the understanding of "secular" eternal truths, say, in logic or mathematics, should be regarded as directly dependent on divine grace.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ferroelectric materials to Form and matterMetaphysical Form in Ancient and Medieval Thought - Forms As Universal Exemplars In Plato, Individualized Forms In Aristotle, Forms As Divine Ideas In St. Augustine