Understanding The Medieval Meditative Ascent: Augustine, by Robert McMahon

By Robert McMahon

The Confessions, Proslogion, and comfort of Philosophy, just like the Divine Comedy, all enact Platonist ascents. every one has a pilgrim determine, guided dialogically on a trip of realizing. each one rises to steadily better degrees of realizing and culminates in a excellent highbrow imaginative and prescient. the better degrees include and surpass past understandings and thereby reconfigure them, yet implicitly, for the questing pilgrim infrequently stops to mirror at the phases of his ascent. Augustine’s conclusions approximately time in booklet eleven, for instance, embody reminiscence as "time past," yet he doesn't re-evaluate his account of reminiscence in booklet 10 from this new viewpoint. He leaves this activity for his reader’s meditation, as a non secular exercise.In this manner, a Platonist ascent generates implied meditative meanings, which students have explored simply partly. every one paintings calls us to learn ahead, on its trip of knowing, and to meditate backwards at the levels of the ascent and the kin among them. Augustine, Anselm, Boethius, and Dante wrote for readers skilled in meditating at the Bible, adept at exploring kinfolk among a ways far away passages. They designed those works as religious workouts for a similar type of analyzing and meditation.Understanding the Medieval Meditative Ascent makes use of literary research to find new philosophical meanings in those works. in actual fact written in nontechnical language, its account in their literary buildings and of the hidden meanings they generate will tell nonspecialist and professional alike.

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Extra resources for Understanding The Medieval Meditative Ascent: Augustine, Anselm, Boethius, & Dante

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The present study uses this recovered knowledge in order to show how to explore these works as fully as they were meant to be read. As in lectio divina, the ultimate aim of these spiritual exercises is contemplative: to lead us to a deeper apprehension of God. God is not only the End of the ascent but also its Origin, and therefore its Mover, Guide, and Path. The ascent aims to lead us through words to the Word, through words about God toward the wordless experience of God. Because God is present throughout the ascent, at any losophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, edited with an Introduction by Arnold I.

Though a piece of rose quartz, a water-oak, a dog, and a person all possess existence as a fact, they were held to enjoy different powers of existing on an ascending scale. The rose quartz has existence, but not life; a water-oak has existence and life, with its capacities for nourishment, growth, and reproduction, but not locomotion; a dog has existence, life, and locomotion, with the powers of perception and memory needed for survival once a being has locomotion; and a human being has all these powers augmented by “reason” (language, reflective understanding, intuition).

Every first-time reader of the poem witnesses this transformation, and to that extent participates in it. But this participation is rarely deep, and thus hardly transforming. The transforming work of the poem is effected to the extent that readers meditate upon it. In this instance, as we attempt to understand what the Commedia is saying about “love,” we dwell upon its transformations of meaning, and this dwelling allows them to work more deeply upon us. We are involved more deeply in the transformations effected in the poem, and they may thereby effect a transformation in us.

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