Dieser Artikel entstammt dem Augustinus-Lexikon und wurde in dessen 3. Band, Doppelfaszikel 1/2 (2004) auf den Spalten 70-75 publiziert.
Frui – uti
1. The background and basic distinctions – 2. A.’s theory – 3. The discussion in doctr. chr. 1
1. The background and basic distinctions. – Many instances of f. and u. in A.’s writings are everyday usage  and do not carry the load of technical disjunction between them which A. develops for his ethics. But aesthetic philosophical language easily contrasts what is inspired beautiful art with what is useful like a craft or skill , and A.’s rhetorical training makes him particularly susceptible to the employment of antithetical terms  (äOratio, orator). The term u. can apply to what is far from high in the scale of value, but wholly necessary (äNecessitas): u. is the term for describing means, including proper ‹use› of the world in our present human condition . But means can be employed for higher as well as for lower ends (äFinis). In comparison with what is properly to be enjoyed, the use of things of sense is to be despised (mor. 1,37). But reflection convinced A. that this could not be correct for friendship when friends are ranked as the greatest consolation given to humanity between birth and death (ciu. 19,8), and when it is the nature of friends that they are loved for their own sake (conf. 6,26; äAmicitia). A permanent friendship is ‹in deo› (doctr. chr. 1,35.37; c. Faust. 22,78).
Means and ends are a topic in Greek ethics from äPlato onwards. Grg. 467e2 distinguishes between goods we desire and the means (‹neither good nor bad but between›) employed to attain them. Ly. 220b acknowledges that all choices are part of a process: we choose ‹x› for the sake of ‹y› and ‹y› for the sake of ‹z› in a chain. But the process is not unending. For the supreme good is desired for its own sake, not for any further end to which it might lead (äBonum).
Aristotle applies the distinction between means and ends to human relationships. Some people simply enjoy the society of friends, whereas others love them not for themselves but for the benefits which they receive from the relationship. What they want is what is advantageous for themselves. So some people are loved for their money, others for their witty conversation; but a perfect friendship is grounded exclusively in moral virtue, which imparts a permanence lacking in the merely useful and transitory (EN 8,3-6,1156a6-1158a36; äAristoteles) .
The phrase ‹correct use› had a long previous history in ancient philosophy . In Pl. Grg. 456b-457b the rhetor defends his art of persuasive oratory by the argument that it is correctly used. The ä‹Stoici› distinguished attitudes to desired possessions such as wealth. Riches might be a danger to the soul which could be averted or at least mitigated by thinking that, if and when properly used for the benefit of the community or to feed the starving and destitute, wealth was innocuous and indeed could have positive moral benefit. Wealth is not an end in itself but a means to be used to a higher and morally constructive purpose. The Stoic argument concluded that because riches can be used in both good and evil ways, they are in themselves morally indifferent .
In a passage cited by A. in diu. qu. 31 and judged by him to be particularly important, äCicero (inu. 2,159sq.) contrasts ‹honestum› – defined as that which is sought for its own sake (‹propter se petitur›) because of its intrinsic value (äHonestas, honestus) – and ‹utile› – sought primarily for secondary advantages such as a successful career (ä‹dignitas›), to which it may be a ladder. Friendship (‹amicitia›) is for some moral thinkers sought for itself alone, but others value it for its ‹utilitas› (ib. 2,167). For others, both positions are true. This same antithesis of ‹honestas› and ‹utilitas› pervades Cic. off. 3 stressing Panaetius’s doctrine that nothing is ‹utile› which is not ‹honestum›, and nothing ‹honestum› which is not ‹utile› (ib. 3,34). A. was not happy with this thesis of identity (diu. qu. 30).
The Ciceronian language in diu. qu. 30 sets in parallel the two antitheses of f.-u. and ‹honestum-utile› . The good (‹honestas›) is sought for itself (‹propter se›) and is a spiritual beauty to be enjoyed. By contrast anything subsumed under the category ‹useful› includes all the material and temporal world, which, being under the rule of divine providence, is in itself in no way evil (äProuidentia). A judicious wisdom knows in which of the two categories a given thing or action has to fall. So God is never to be used, only enjoyed (äDeus). Perfect reason has the capacity to judge rightly, not only what is to be used, but also the correct way of using.
Notes. –  In ciu. 11,25 A. expressly notes this fact of common speech; cf. ‹usus› and ‹fruitio› in legal language; Flor. epit. 2,6,21: «(sc. Hannibal) cum uictoria posset uti, frui maluit». – A. uses forms of f. about 450 times, of ‹perfrui› about 190 times, of ‹perfruitio› 6 times (but he does not know the substantive ‹fruitio›), of u. about 1650 times and of ‹usus› about 570 times. –  Cf. ‹utile-dulce› in Hor. ars 343; ‹prodesse-delectare› ib. 333; ‹utilitas-delectatio› in Varro ant. rer. diu. frg. 11 Cardauns; cf. Pfligersdorffer 101-106. –  Cf. ä‹foris-intus›; but initially A. uses f. (e.g. beata u. 34; Acad. 1,23; ord. 1,24) and u. (e.g. lib. arb. 2,32sq.) independently; cf. O’Donovan, Usus 374-378. –  Cf. uera rel. 91sq.; mus. 6,46; ep. 220,5; doctr. chr. 1,4. –  Cf. Price 138-148. –  Illustration in Gnilka. –  SVF 3,117.119 = Diog. Laert. 7,101-104. –  The use of diu. qu. 30 and passages in ciu. 19 by Lorenz, Herkunft to identify äVarro as the source of A.’s views on f. and u. has been criticized by Pfligersdorffer and O’Donovan, Usus.
2. A.’s theory. – The distinction between what may be enjoyed (with absorbed and adoring love) and what may be used (with rational detachment) and how is integral to A.’s ethics, and is rooted in a Neoplatonic antithesis between eternal and temporal (äTemporalia-aeterna). For A. ‹beata uita› cannot consist in anything mutable and transitory, and therefore neither bodily pleasures nor even virtues dependent on decisions of the frail and mutable human will may suffice to result in happiness, i.e. in the mental ä‹requies› in God of which äPlotinus and A.’s äConfessiones speak. Happiness lies in ‹gaudium de ueritate› (ib. 10,33). The source of perfection for the soul consists in what is eternal, independent of the soul which is created ‹ex nihilo›, but accessible to the soul in its acknowledgement of dependence upon God. So happiness is found in ‹possessing› God (De äbeata uita 11; en. Ps. 32,2,18; äBeatitudo, äGaudium).
The language of joy is natural when God is ‹beauty› (conf. 10,38; äPulchritudo, pulchrum). A Neoplatonic aesthetic can understand the gift of knowing God as expressible in the terms of a lover’s joy in the beauty of the beloved . God alone is a proper object of total love; things of sense have to be rated low in the scale, restricted to the necessities of this mortal life (mor. 1,37).
For A. earthly things, including not only the self but also other rational beings, can be so rightly regarded as to become a ladder up to the contemplation and enjoyment of the divine (äAscensio, ascensus); and other members of God’s rational creation can be used to form a community of love and justice, e.g. a monastery or an ecclesial body. If a neighbour is properly used because loved for some higher purpose, that is ‹uti cum gaudio›; all who enjoy use, but not all who use enjoy (trin. 10,17). Human society when rightly used can lead to eternal life and enjoyment in God (ciu. 19,13). In ‹correct use› there is an implication of reflective detachment, whereas by contrast what is enjoyed is all-absorbing: in A. the content of f. is love.
Good people so love the world as to express their love for God, while the bad enjoy the world and want to make use of God (ib. 15,7) . On more than one occasion A. pinpoints the essence of ethical perversion in the treatment of ends as means and of means as ends (cf. s. 21,3; c. Faust. 22,78).
Notes. –  For an overview concerning Platonic and Christian attitudes cf. Osborne passim. –  God himself is able to ‹use› even sinners and the Devil for his good ends (gr. et lib. arb. 41); äEtiam peccata.
3. The discussion in doctr. chr. 1. – In De ädoctrina christiana 1,3-40 A. deals especially with the issue of the use of other people . It is a ‹magna quaestio› whether human beings should enjoy or use one another, or both (ib. 1,20). Other people are being incorrectly used when they are merely being exploited for worldly advantage, but correctly when they are loved for God’s sake or ‹in God› (cf. ib. 1,37). They are friends ‹in deo›, and that is an exaltation of use by being referred to God (ib. 1,21: «referre ad deum»; äReferre ad). A. felt that he could ‹frui in domino› the high intelligence of äLicentius (ep. 26,4), or the parents of the young girl äDemetrias could ‹enjoy› her virginity (ib. 150,1). Correct use requires ‹caritas ordinata› , a love which is properly directed so that there is no question of earthly and temporal things being enjoyed and divine things being used . This requires a ‹rerum integer aestimator› (doctr. chr. 1,28).
Doctr. chr. 1 has had a diversity of exegeses, not easily compatible with one another . It is too simplistic to say that loving a neighbour is instrumental to loving God. However, A.’s language is not tightly logical in this work, and the diversity of interpretations may reflect the fact that he was being exploratory and almost tentative. In his later writings A. avoids the classification of love of one’s neighbour as u. (äProximus), considering it rather to be a kind of f. .
Notes. –  Cf. O’Donovan, Usus 361-373; for a critical survey of earlier views, especially Holte 200-278 (cf. O’Donovan, Usus 363-373.396sq.); Rist 159-168 puts the discussion of doctr. chr. 1 into the overall context of A.’s writings on f. and u. –  Ib. 140,4; 143,12; cf. doctr. chr. 1,28; c. Faust. 22,28 (‹dilectio ordinata›) and mend. 41; ciu. 15,21 (‹amor ordinatus›); äAmor, 1,296sq., äCaritas, 1,732-741. But also cf. the study of Nygren, which accuses A. of contaminating the Christian concept of ‹Agape› with the Greek concept of ‹Eros›. –  Cf. O’Donovan, Problem 25-27. –  Cf. . –  C. Faust. 22,78; ciu. 19,13; cf. O’Donovan, Usus 390-392.
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