Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 30.--Is Corporeity Necessary for Recognition?
But who is able to trace out what capacity of recognition even souls which are not good possess after death when relieved of the corruptible bodies, so as to be able by an inner sense to observe and recognise either souls that are evil like themselves, or even good ones, either in states which are actually not corporeal, but the semblances of bodies; or else in good or evil affections of the mind, in which there occur no lineaments whatever of bodily members? Whence arises the fact that the rich man in the parable, though in torments, recognised |Father Abraham,| whose face and figure he had never seen, but the semblance of whose body his soul, though incorporeal, was able to comprehend? But who could rightly say that he had known any man, except in so far as he has had means of knowing his life and disposition, which have, of course, neither material substance nor colours? It is in this way that we know ourselves more certainly than any others, because our own consciousness and disposition are all before us. This we plainly perceive, and yet we see therein no similitude of a bodily substance. But we do not perceive this inner quality of our nature in another man, even if he be present before our eyes; though in his absence we recollect his features, and recognise them, and think of them. Our own features, however, we cannot in the same manner recollect, and recognise, and think of; and yet with most perfect truth we say that we are ourselves better known to ourselves than he is, so manifest is it where lies the stronger and truer knowledge of man.