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Noise Words Common words, such as "and", "is", "but", and "the", also known as noise words, are bypassed in a search. Ranking Rank is a value from 0 to indicating how closely a match scored or ranked against the original search string. Content that includes the search words in close proximity to each other are ranked above those that do not. As a student in Thagaste and then Carthage, Augustine runs amok in sexual adventures and false philosophies most notably Manicheism. He sees this period of his life primarily as a lesson in how immersion in the material world is its own punishment of disorder, confusion, and grief.
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The young Augustine does, however, catch a passion for the pursuit of Philosophical truth, learning the doctrines of Manicheism, skepticism, and Neoplatonism. This last philosophy will have a profound influence on him-- the Confessions are perhaps the most masterful expression of his intricate fusion of Catholic theology with Neoplatonic ideas.
Moving back to Thagaste, then back to Carthage again, and on to Rome and Milan, Augustine continues to wrestle with his doubts about what he has learned and with his budding interest in Catholicism, the faith of his mother, Monica. He also continues to pursue his career as a teacher of rhetoric an occupation he later frowns upon as the salesmanship of empty words and his habits of indulgence in sex and other pleasures of the sensual world.
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Things change in Milan, where Augustine finally decides that Catholicism holds the only real truth. Convinced of this but lacking the will to make the leap into a fully devoted life including baptism and sexual abstinence , Augustine has a famous conversion experience in his Milan garden and becomes a devoted and chaste Catholic.
Despite this apparent sudden shift in content, however, the Confessions are remarkably coherent as a whole; in making his autobiography a profoundly reflective one, Augustine has already introduced many of the same ideas and themes that receive a direct treatment in the last four Books. The unifying theme that emerges over the course of the entire work is that of redemption: Augustine sees his own painful process of returning to God as an instance of the return of the entire creation to God.
The form of the work corresponds closely to its aim and its content; the work is about the return of creation to God, it aims to inspire others to actively seek this return, and it takes the highly original form of a direct address to God from one being in his creation. In this context, it is also noteworthy that, for Augustine, "confession" carried the dual meanings of an admission of guilt and an act of praise.
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