"It is arguably the case," writes William Parsons, "that no two figures have had more influence on the course of Western introspective thought than Freud and Augustine." Yet it is commonly assumed that Freud and Augustine would have nothing to say to each other with regard to spirituality or mysticism, given the former's alleged antipathy to religion and the latter's not usually being considered a mystic. Adopting an interdisciplinary, dialogical, and transformational framework for interpreting Augustine's spiritual journey in his Confessions, Parsons places a "mystical theology" at the heart of Augustine's narrative and argues that his mysticism has been misunderstood partly because of the limited nature of the psychological models applied to it. At the same time, he expands Freud's therapeutic legacy to incorporate the contemporary findings of physiology and neuroscience that have been influenced in part by modern spirituality. Parsons develops a new psychological hermeneutic to account for Augustine's mysticism that will capture the imagination of contemporary readers who are both psychologically informed and interested in spirituality. The author intends this interpretive model not only to engage modern introspective concerns about developmental conflict and the power of the unconscious but also to reach a more nuanced level of insight into the origins and the nature of the self.
The essays here show the interface and relevance of psychology to theology (and vice versa), and they do so in a way that will be useful to upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level courses in religious studies. The collection is also useful for presenting classic essays as well as new essays appearing here for the first time.
Author: Diane Jonte-Pace Professor of Religious Studies and Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development Santa Clara University
Publisher: An American Academy of Religion Book
As one of the first theorists to explore the unconscious fantasies, fears, and desires underlying religious ideas and practices, Freud con be considered one of the grandparents of the field of Religious Studies. Yet his legacy is deeply contested. How can Freud be taught in a climate of critique and controversy? The fourteen contributors to this volume, all recognized scholars of religion and psychoanalysis, describe how they address Freud's contested legacy; they "teach the debates." They go on to describe their courses on Freud and religion, their innovative pedagogical practices, and the creative ways they work with resistance.
Joining insights from social science and philosophy, this book offers a nuanced view on the discourse of evil, which has been on the rise in the West in recent years. Exploring the famous ‘Pear Theft’ episode in St Augustine’s Confessions, it looks beyond the theological implications of the event to focus instead on the secular insights that it offers when the event is placed in the context of social thought. With attention to Augustine’s lengthy reflections on a seemingly marginal episode, the author contends that it is possible to discern the elements of a convincing account of intentional evil action, the Pear Theft representing a case of joint radical improvisation that lacks collective deliberation. As such, a new perspective emerges on familiar and more intuitive forms of evil in joint action that involve group identification and institutional action. Evil in Joint Action will appeal to scholars of sociology, social theory and philosophy with interests in ethics, collective action and concepts of evil.
Written simply and directly—but without sacrificing intellectual depth—this widely acclaimed text explores the preeminent theorists of Western political thought from the pre-Socratics to the contemporary era. The author provides an in-depth analysis of a limited number of major thinkers, which allows for a richly detailed examination of each philosopher in historical context. Western Political Thought, Second Edition, presents the fundamental terms, ideas, and dilemmas of Western political philosophy in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner. It organizes the theorists historically, explains basic concepts in depth, and draws out and analyzes the implications of various political theories. Moreover, this cohesive volume employs an overarching theme, examining each thinker in terms of the changing relationships of ethics and politics in Western political philosophy.
In the massive literature on the idea of the self, the Augustinian influence has often played a central role. The volume Augustine Our Contemporary, starting from the compelling first essay by David W. Tracy, addresses this influence from the Middle Ages to modernity and from a rich variety of perspectives, including theology, philosophy, history, and literary studies. The collected essays in this volume all engage Augustine and the Augustinian legacy on notions of selfhood, interiority, and personal identity. Written by prominent scholars, the essays demonstrate a connecting thread: Augustine is a thinker who has proven his contemporaneity in Western thought time and time again. He has been "the contemporary" of thinkers ranging from Eriugena to Luther to Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida. His influence has been dominant in certain eras, and in others he has left traces and fragments that, when stitched together, create a unique impression of the “presentness” of Christian selfhood. As a whole, Augustine Our Contemporary sheds relevant new light on the continuity of the Western Christian tradition. This volume will interest academics and students of philosophy, political theory, and religion, as well as scholars of postmodernism and Augustine. Contributors: Susan E. Schreiner, David W. Tracy, Bernard McGinn, Vincent Carraud, Willemien Otten, Adriaan T. Peperzak, David C. Steinmetz, Jean-Luc Marion, W. Clark Gilpin, William Schweiker, Franklin I. Gamwell, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Fred Lawrence, and Françoise Meltzer.
This collection of essays focuses on Augustine’s relationship to Wittgenstein and critically examines the two in light of various philosophical connections between them. Its scope is intentionally broad in order to show that reading each of these philosophers through the lens of the other enhances our understanding of both.
In Augustine and the Fundamentalist's Daughter, Margaret Miles weaves her memoirs together with reflections on Augustine's Confessions. Having read and reread Augustine's Confessions, in admiration as well as frustration, over the past thirty-five years, Miles brings her memories of childhood and youth in a fundamentalist home into conversation with Augustine's effort to understand his life. The result is a fascinating work of autobiographical and theological reflection. Moreover, this project brings together a rare combination of insights into fundamentalist convictions and habits of mind, as well as into the differences among fundamentalists. Such reflections are especially urgent in this time in which fundamentalism is prominent in political and social discourse.
Can Luther's writings inform us on the fundamental questions of Freudian psychoanalysis? Does an intellectual filiation between early Reformation thought and psychoanalysis exist? Does Lacanian psychoanalysis offer an instrument for analysing theological writings? In The Heart of Man's Destiny, Herman Westerink offers a new reading of Lacan's seventh seminar, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. Working from an innovative perspective, this book explores the close relationship between Freudian psychoanalysis and the ideas of the early Reformation. Lacan claimed that to be unaware of the connection between Freud and early Reformation constituted a fundamental misunderstanding of the kind of problems psychoanalysis addresses. Westerink carefully explores these problems and shows that Lacanian psychoanalysis, with its emphasis on desire and law, transgression, and symbolization, draws on fundamental ideas first formulated in the writings of Luther and Calvin. By relating psychoanalysis to early Reformation thought, Westerink not only shows Lacan's writings in a completely new light, but also makes possible an innovative reading of early modern theology itself. The Heart of Man's Destiny breaks new ground by providing both a controversial as well as a fresh perspective on both Luther and Calvin, and on Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis. This valuable contribution to the complex character of psychoanalysis will be of interest to analysts and psychotherapists, as well academics and postgraduates with an interest in theology, philosophy and ethics.
Several years before his death, Augustine of Hippo reviewed his published works, commenting on his purpose in writing each, and correcting, from his present perspective, the mistakes he noticed. Inspired by Augustine's Retractationes, Miles's Recollections and Reconsiderations undertakes a similar project, a critical review of almost fifty years of her publications. Rereading and rethinking in chronological order effectively bonds life and thought into a corpus, a body of work with consistent values and interests. Such a review would be an illuminating project for any longtime scholar/student--both rewarding and humbling, an exercise in self-knowledge. Informed by a lifetime of studying Christian traditions, Miles concludes by describing both endemic problems with Christianity, and what she sees is its essence and beauty.