Augustine and Time
John Doody (Hrsg.), Kim Paffenroth (Hrsg.), Sean Hannan (Hrsg.)
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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Philosophie
This collection examines the topic of time in the life and works of Augustine of Hippo. Adopting a global perspective on time as a philosophical and theological problem, the volume includes reflections on the meaning of history, the mortality of human bodies, and the relationship between temporal experience and linguistic expression. As Augustine himself once observed, time is both familiar and surprisingly strange. Everyone’s days are structured by temporal rhythms and routines, from watching the clock to whiling away the hours at work. Few of us, however, take the time to sit down and figure out whether time is real or not, or how it is we are able to hold our past, present, and future thoughts together in a straight line so that we can recite a prayer or sing a song.
Divided into five sections, the essays collected here highlight the ongoing relevance of Augustine’s work even in settings quite distinct from his own era and context. The first three sections, organized around the themes of interpretation, language, and gendered embodiment, engage directly with Augustine’s own writings, from the Confessions to the City of God and beyond. The final two sections, meanwhile, explore the afterlife of the Augustinian approach in conversation with medieval Islamic and Christian thinkers (like Avicenna and Aquinas), as well as a broad range of Buddhist figures (like Dharmakīrti and Vasubandhu).
What binds all of these diverse chapters together is the underlying sense that, regardless of the century or the tradition in which we find ourselves, there is something about the puzzle of temporality that refuses to go away. Time, as Augustine knew, demands our attention. This was true for him in late ancient North Africa. It was also true for Buddhist thinkers in South and East Asia. And it remains just as true for humankind in the twenty-first century, as people around the globe continue to grapple with the reality of time and the challenges of living in a world that always seems to be to be speeding up rather than slowing down.