Re: [xmca] Augustine vs. Bauman?

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Mon Nov 26 2007 - 12:58:33 PST

  I tend to agree that the modern notion of individual can't be found in ancient texts. Nevertheless, doesn't the idea that ones own life (e.g., Augstine's recounting of his own errant youth and subsequent redemption) can be " a typical story, as an exemplum for all Christians" imply a concept of individual self. I would argue that the concept of individual self is implicit in the Christian concept of the soul and redemption. With all the deadly consequences it has wrought humankind.

  Which is also one of the reason that the quote you provided seems strange. The author writes:
  "Within Augustinian metaphysics human intentions play a restricted role in the
narrative of the self because of predestination " Now I'm wrong at least 40% of the time but predestination isn't an ancient christian concept as far as I know. Predestination is present in Calvinism but not in Catholicism . . . I don't know whether Augustine specifically addressed it but Aquinas (most certainly provided a cogent argument against it. In any event, the concept of predestination undermines the possibility of individual salvation, a central dogma in pre-Reformation Christianity. Furthermore, the essence Augustine's argument in "On the Teacher" is precisely the inability to reduce faith to reason, a teaching that can be compared in fundamental ways to Kierkergaard's "leap of faith" which Kaufmann and other historians of Western philosophy consider the first cogent expression of "existenialism", that most individualist of philosophies. That kinship would certainly provide evidence that some concept of "individual" was working in Augustine's thought, albeit,
 to use Hegelian terminology, in-itself and not for-itself.

"E. Knutsson" <> wrote:
  AugustineÔ€™s Confessiones is not usually reckoned as a modern autobiography.
Some historians even tend to express doubts about AbelardÔ€™s Historia

AugustineÔ€™s Confessiones offers the story of his life not as the story of an
individuality but as a typical story, as an exemplum for all Christians.
According to Troeltsch, there is in Augustine not only the abstract
individualism of the absolute natural law and the religious individualism of
the elect but also the supra-individual value of the community in the context
of the relative natural law and the supra-individual concept of the Church Ô€“ a
most varied array of concepts.

"Within Augustinian metaphysics human intentions play a restricted role in the
narrative of the self because of predestination. ... [A] significant turning
point occurs between the late eleventh and early thirteenth centuries, when a
group of Latin authors link the self, literary experience, and the emerging
problem of intentions. Linguistic intentionality acquires the capacity to
perpetuate representations of the self in the same way that natural laws are
thought to maintain the harmonious operation of the world. Authority is partly
transferred from the divine to the human sphere, where its context is human
discourse." (Brian Stock, Ô€œThe Self and Literary Experience in Late Antiquity
and the Middle AgesÔ€, New Literary History, Vol. 25, No. 4, Autumn 1994, pp.


On 2007-11-26, at 01:04, mariasucupiralins wrote:
> Para:"eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
> C├│pia:
> Data:Sun, 25 Nov 2007 23:30:30 +0100 (CET)
> Assunto:Re: [xmca] Bauman on Identity
> it is said that the first person to write about his own self, and to have
discovered his identity is Agostinho from Hippona when he wrote his
Confessions. He really knew his identity.
> maria
> "Identity as such is a modern invention. To say that modernity led to
>> the `disembedding┬┤ of identity, or that it rendered the
>> identity `unencumbered┬┤, is to assert a pleonasm, since at no time did
>> identity `become┬┤ a problem; it was a `problem┬┤ from its birth - was born as
>> problem (that is, as something one needs do something about - as a task),
>> exist only as a problem; it was a problem, and thus ready to be born,
>> because of that experience of under-determination and free-floatingness which
>> came to be articulated ex post facto as `disembeddedment┬┤. ... One thinks of
>> identity whenever one is not sure of where one belongs; that is, one is not
>> sure how to place oneself among the evident variety of behavioural styles and
>> patterns, and how to make sure that people around would accept this placement
>> as right and proper, so that both sides would know how to go on in each
>> presence. `Identity┬┤ is a name given to the escape sought from that
>> uncertainty. Hence `identity┬┤, though ostensibly a noun, behaves like a verb,
>> albeit a strange one to be sized as an attribute of a material entity,
>> has the ontological status of a project and a postulate. ... Identity entered
>> modern mind and practice dressed from the start as an individual task. It was
>> up to the individual to find escape from uncertainty. Not for the first and
>> for the last time, socially created problems were to be resolved by
>> efforts, and collective maladies healed by private medicine." (Zygmunt
>> Bauman, "From Pilgrim to Tourist - or a Short History of Identity"; Hall,
>> Stuart & Paul du Gay (eds.). Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage,
>> On 2007-11-23, at 20:31, Paul Dillon wrote:
>> > The citation of James Baldwin, a black homosexual, provides a limit case of
>> society's imposition of "identity". Things are clearer on the boundaries.
>> >
>> > An earlier post proposed the "identity" is a post-modern occidental
>> preoccupation but this mistakes language and meta-language. Nobody ever
>> about "oxygen" before Priestley isolated it while looking for de-
>> air.
>> >
>> > Lacking in identity? Let's see, are you an " atheist, baptist, hindu, or
>> jew, a buddhist, a catholic, or jain"? Do you cringe, grow enraged, or feel
>> exhalted upon hearing the "Star Spangled Banner" or the "International"?
>> >
>> > Paul
>> >

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Received on Mon Nov 26 13:00 PST 2007

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