The two most important non-Christian movements in religion and philosophy during the third and fourth centuries were Manichaeism and Neo-platonism. We have already considered the former, and now turn to the other, which was founded in the third century by Plotinus. We are especially interested in these two because of the impact each of them had on the thought of Augustin.
When Augustin was wrestling with the problem of evil, his pastor and mentor, Ambrose of Milan, suggested that he read the writings of Plotinus, who, even though a pagan, had a much more reasonable understanding of the nature of evil than did the Manichaeans. Augustin would eventually incorporate certain aspects of Plotinus' vision into his own philosophy of the Christian faith. Some have criticized him for this, but on the whole, Christian philosophers have agreed that Plotinus offered a useful approach to the issue.
This wide ranging course starts with the pre-Socratic philosophers of the ancient world, and traces the history of philosophical speculation across the ages up to the present. Included along the way is special attention to the greatest Christian thinkers in history, including Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and many others.