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Document Details :
Title: 'We All Were That One Man'
Subtitle: Augustine on the Origin of Souls and our Bond with Adam
Author(s): TEN BRINKE, Henk
Volume: 70 Issue: 1 Date: 2020
Augustine’s view on the doctrine of original sin is closely informed by his view on the origin of souls. He held that all people were present in Adam when he sinned and, since in Augustine’s view sin is in the first place a matter of the human soul, the question is the following: how/in what way were all human souls in Adam when he sinned? And how does Augustine’s answer to that question relate to Plotinus’s doctrine of the pretemporal fall of the pre-existent soul? This article argues that the terminology Augustine uses to describe what happens to the soul reflects Plotinus’s doctrine of a pretemporal fall of the pre-existent soul. While Augustine does not teach a pretemporal fall of the soul, he does teach an ontological fall of the entire human race in Adam. Just like in Plotinus’s Neoplatonic anthropology all souls share a common existence in the one Soul, so Augustine holds all human beings to have a common existence in Adam preceding their individual existence. When Adam sinned, all human beings sinned in this common existence with Adam. This renders them all guilty, even before their concrete appearance in history. Since that guilt is common, it is not an alien guilt, but their own.