"It is impossible to show God to a mind vitiated and sick."

— St. Augustine (354-430)

Work Title
"It is impossible to show God to a mind vitiated and sick."
Metaphor in Context
R.--You do well to be so affected. For Reason who speaks with you promises to let you see God with your mind as the sun is seen with the eye. The mind has, as it were, eyes of its own, analogous to the soul's senses. The certain truths of the sciences are analogous to the objects which the sun's rays make visible, such as the earth and earthly things. And it is God himself who illumines all. I, Reason, am in minds as the power of looking is in the eyes. Having eyes is not the same thing as looking, and looking is not the same as seeing. The soul therefore needs three things: eyes which it can use aright, looking and seeing. The eye of the mind is healthy when it is pure from every taint of the body, that is, when it is remote and purged from desire of mortal things. And this, faith alone can give in the first place. It is impossible to show God to a mind vitiated and sick. Only the healthy mind can see him. But if the mind does not believe that only thus will it attain vision, it will not seek healing. Even if it believes that this true, and that only so will it attain the vision, but at the same time despairs of healing, will it not abandon the quest and refuse to obey the precepts of the physician?
(§vi, ¶12, pp. 30-1)
The Soliloquies of Augustine. trans. Rose Elizabeth Cleveland. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1910). Text available at the Online Library of Liberty <http://oll.libertyfund.org/ToC/0579.php>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.