The Mysticism of Saint Augustine: Rereading The Confessions
Augustine's vision at Ostia is one of the most influential accounts of mystical experience in the Western tradition, and a subject of persistent interest to Christians, philosophers and historians.
This book explores Augustine's account of his experience as set down in the Confessions and considers his mysticism in relation to his classical Platonist philosophy. John Peter Kenney argues that while the Christian contemplative mysticism created by Augustine is in many ways founded on Platonic thought, Platonism ultimately fails Augustine in that it cannot retain the truths that it anticipates. The Confessions offer a response to this impasse by generating two critical ideas in medieval and modern religious thought: firstly, the conception of contemplation as a purely epistemic event, in contrast to classical Platonism; secondly, the tenet that salvation is absolutely distinct from enlightenment.
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A. H. Armstrong account of contemplation achieve ancient articulated ascension narratives ascension texts association Augustine Augustine's account Augustine's text Augustinian soul autobiographical baptism become Book Seven Christ Christian contemplation cognitive Confessions consciousness contemplative soul Courcelle creator described discern disclosed discover distinct divine grace divine Wisdom effort embodied emerge Enneads episode epistemic eternal existence fallen finite God's grasp heaven of heaven human immediate initial inner Intellect intellectual vision intelligible interior interpretation knowledge language late antiquity levels of reality libri Platonicorum light Manichaeism Manichean metaphysical momentary Monica Monica's soul monotheism moral Moreover mystical experience nature Neoplatonic notion ontological pagan Platonism passage philosophical pilgrim soul Platonists Plotinian ecstasy Plotinus Plotinus's Porphyry presence reader reading realm recognition reflection religious Saint Saint Paul salvation salvific scriptural seen sense significance soteriology soul's spiritual temporal theology theoria theurgy things transcendence transcendental true truth understanding VII.xvii 23 vision at Ostia visionary