Augustine the Reader: Meditation, Self-Knowledge, and the by Brian Stock

By Brian Stock

Augustine of Hippo, a significant determine within the heritage of Western suggestion, is additionally the writer of a conception of interpreting that has had a profound impression on Western letters from the a while of Petrarch, Montaigne, Luther, and Rousseau to these of Freud and our personal time. Brian inventory presents the 1st complete account of this thought in the evolution of Augustine's early dialogues, his Confessions, and his systematic treatises.

Augustine used to be confident that phrases and photographs play a mediating function in our perceptions of fact. within the union of philosophy, psychology, and literary insights that kinds the foundation of his conception of interpreting, the reader emerges because the dominant version of the reflective self. Meditative interpreting, certainly the meditative act that constitutes studying itself, turns into the portal to internal being. while, Augustine argues that the self-knowledge analyzing brings is, of necessity, constrained, because it is religion instead of interpretive cause that may translate examining into kinds of figuring out.

In making his concept of studying a important hindrance, Augustine rethinks old doctrines approximately photos, reminiscence, emotion, and cognition. In judging what readers achieve and don't achieve from the sensory and psychological figuring out of texts, he is taking up questions that experience reappeared in modern considering. He prefigures, and in a manner he teaches us to acknowledge, our personal preoccupations with the phenomenology of interpreting, the hermeneutics of culture, and the ethics of interpretation.

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Extra resources for Augustine the Reader: Meditation, Self-Knowledge, and the Ethics of Interpretation

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270 Scholars have continued to have misgivings about the factual value of the autobiography, especially concerning the critical account of the final conversion, which is not reiterated elsewhere. Mistrust reached its high point between Prosper Alfaric (1918) and Pierre Courcelle (1950), both of whom were convinced, for philosophical and philological reasons respectively, that Confessions 8 was largely a literary creation. Courcelle saw his task as setting the historical record straight. "The words of Augustine," he stated, "invite us to engage in a twofold inquiry: to attempt to reestablish chronology as precisely as possible, notably for the Milanese period .

Needless to say, I view these as operating interdependently, as does Augustine in his revision of later ancient views on the functions of the literary imagination. 274 I CONFESSIONS 1-9 The topic of Part I is Augustine's narrative of his progress as a reader in Confessions 1~. The account begins in infancy and moves to his classroom at Thagaste in 361; it then leaps forward to 373, when he discovers Cicero's Hortensius takes up the study of philosophy, and begins a nine-year period as a Manichaean auditor.

He limits himself to "short and pregnant sayings which could easily be memorized. "183 They offer a precis, not a precise resume, of the text. 184 As an alternative to this view, some scholars have argued that there is 4° AUGUSTINE THE READER not one Cicero in the text but two. The first is the author of the Hortensius who actually fostered Augustine's rethinking of his life's aims in 373. The other, a composite figure created in his imagination over time, was in his mind when he wrote the Confessions.

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