Argumentative Term paper about Blessed Augustine of Hippo
Eternal Truths and Ethical Dilemma in Nursing
St. Augustine of Hipp’s philosophical work was a straddle between the ancient Greek philosophers and the medieval Christians in Europe. At Milan, he was involved in Neo-Platonism, and he gained interest in the teachings of Bishop Ambrose of Milan. After conversion into Christianity, he got baptized and denounced worldly desires. He had a challenge with Neo-Platonism and Christianity virtues. In AD 396, he became a bishop at Hippo. It is believed that his works were more religious-based than philosophical. According to him, discussing philosophical issues was meant for interested academics and focused on the attainment of beatitude and blessedness. Augustine was concerned with how people understand the eternal truths of the universe as provided by Neo-Platonists and Plato (Chroust, 2017). This term paper provides arguments of Augustine on eternal truths and the ethical dilemmas in nursing.
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Augustine provided an argument that was meant to counter skeptics that stated that there was no knowledge that is at all possible. According to him, there are many things that we know to be true and cannot be said to be a lie. To support his argument, he gave several examples of how knowledge is possible (Qvigstad & Bordo, 2016). The law of non-contradiction states that if something is true, then the opposite cannot be true at the same time. He also argued about the existence of a person on the basis of “if I err, I exist. Every person knows that he or she exists, and this is true and cannot be argued about it (Lazier & Gaul, 2011). Cognition about the existence of you is true knowledge, according to Augustine. Another argument is that appearance cannot be falsified as it is infallibly known how everything appears. For instance, the shape of an object can be described in the same manner by different people on the basis of its appearance. How they judge the object beyond what seems to be the case is what leads to the aspect of falsehood.
Doubting is an indication that there is a truth on one side of the argument. Skeptics rely on doubts, and this means that there is a true side of the story. Also, in mathematics and geometry, there are truths that are used, and it cannot be doubted about that (Qvigstad & Bordo, 2016). For instance, if a distance is ten meters, that cannot be a lie. Lastly, Augustine argued about real existence and abstract principles. He argued that people know of abstract concepts that are generated from general ideas. However, people also know of existing real concepts such as natural phenomena (Chroust, 2017). We know that the sun rises every day even when there are clouds all day, and this cannot be refuted even if it were to be argued that what we experience is a dream or a vision in our mind, our existence and being alive is undoubtedly true.
Augustine acknowledges that the senses can sometimes have erred in our judgment of the truth. For instance, a straight stick appears to be bent when placed in water. It can be argued that it is bent based on what we can see, but this is not true in reality (Lazier & Gaul, 2011). The senses do not deliver the truth entirely correctly, as tis the case for mathematical and geometrical outcomes. However, this is not to say that senses are wrong all the time. According to the Plutonic argument, different people have different senses, and this leads to uncertainty in the truth of knowledge based on sense (Chroust, 2017). Eternal truth and the existing knowledge about it are relatively different, and it is difficult to account for both. It is not possible for the sensible world to provide us with truths and immutable ideas. The mind and soul are mutable despite being considered immortal.
The existence of diseases is true, and this cannot be contradicted otherwise. Nurses cannot assume that there are no diseases. Since the knowledge about the existence of diseases is real, the opposite of this cannot be true. Nurses must learn about diseases and the management practices that are required. However, there are cases where the management of a disease requires nurses to improvise on the basis of abstract ideas (Clement, 2016). This raises an ethical dilemma as it is a requirement to adhere to the set protocols. Before making a conclusive diagnosis of a patient, a nurse requires to make several assumptions of the possible disease. Augustine acknowledged that skepticism indicates some truth. In nursing, a nurse has to be skeptical about a patient’s condition, and this prompts him or her to seek the truth. Lack of skepticism raises ethical dilemmas due to the possibility of issuance of wrong treatments.
In nursing, sense does not necessarily provide the truth about a patient. Relying on senses could result in losing a patient due to the wrong diagnosis of the situation. This is similar to the bent stick in the water. When a patient in the ward is calm and appears relaxed, the nurse may assume that he is recovering. In reality, the patient could be severely sick, and the body has become numb as it may be realized upon testing. It is ethically right to ensure that every patient is checked and evaluated regardless of outward appearance (Davis et al., 2010). However, this does not mean that senses are wrong all the time in practice. When a patient who was not talking much is seen talking with others, laughing, and walking around, this is an indication of recovery.
From Augustine’s arguments, it is true that we live and die. Everyone is entitled to live and die under natural circumstances. Through reasoning, we can determine what is true and what is false, but this is not enough to seek eternal truth. Nurses work to save lives and meet every patient’s wants. In eternal truth, the nurse understands that there is a life that needs to be preserved (Davis et al., 2010). However, how to save it relies on the knowledge gained in school and in the field. Meeting the needs of patients is considered to be ethically right. However, nurses are faced with an ethical dilemma when faced with a case where a patient wants to die due to suffering. When the patient with a killer disease asks the nurse to end his life, the nurse is in a dilemma of saving a life and ending it. It is unprofessional, and the ethics of care conflicts with the requirements of the patient (Clement, 2016). The nurse knows that her action to meet the want of the patient will result in the loss of life, and this cannot be contradicted to be false.
In conclusion, Augustine’s philosophical work on eternal truth tries to contradict beliefs from real knowledge. There exists reality around us, and this cannot be assumed to be false. In the nursing practice, there are ethical dilemmas that face nurses as they take care of the patients in relation to Augustine’s argument. Nurses must use real knowledge and not beliefs so as to avoid dilemmas. However, there are instances where they are at a fix in determining what to do. Professionalism requires nurses to handle cases ethically.
Chroust, A. (2017). The fundamental ideas in St. Augustine’s philosophy of law. Augustine and Modern Law, 171-193. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315096735-9
Clement, I. (2016). Ethical dilemma. Textbook on Professional Trends and Adjustments in Nursing, 65-65. https://doi.org/10.5005/jp/books/12786_10
Davis, A. J., Fowler, M. D., Aroskar, M. A., & Fowler, D. (2010). Ethical dilemmas & nursing practice. Prentice Hall.
Lazier, J., & Gaul, B. (2011). The cogito arguments of Descartes and Augustine. Just the Arguments, 131-136. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444344431.ch35
Qvigstad, J. F., & Bordo, M. (2016). On learning from history: Truths and eternal truths. On Central Banking, 124-155. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9781316584682.007