Wednesday, 6 May 2015

D. L. Dusenbury: New Light on Time in Augustine, Confessions XI

I will make a very succinct report on the most important findings presented in my May 2014 monograph, The Space of Time: A Sensualist Interpretation of Time in Augustine, Confessions X to XII (Brill, Leiden), namely:
(α) several textual considerations that undermine a long-prevalent Platonic/ Plotinian interpretation of time as distentio animi in Confessions XI;
(β) several textual indications of strong New Academic/ Ciceronian and Epicurean/ Lucretian influences on A.'s practice of philosophical confessio in Confessions X to XII;
(γ) signs of the hitherto unrecognized importance of Aristoxenus' rhythm-theory, mediated to A. by Cicero (and likely also by Quintilian), for interpreting A.'s concept of time in Confessions XI; and
(δ) the upshot: Augustine's concept of time is not Neo-Platonic - as maintained for well over a century - but instead resembles the "sensualist" time-concept of Epicurus (as mediated to A. by Lucretius and Cicero), and is articulated in terms of the rhetorical rhythm-theory of Cicero (and likely Quintilian) that A. lectured on as a rhetor, and that dates back to Aristoxenus.
I wish to communicate to the conference that A.'s time-concept is not intellectivist, but sensualist. The "dilation" that constitutes time for A. is not a dilation of the mind but of the senses - as A. himself states in the last sentences of his time-investigation (variatur affectus sensusque distenditur, XI.31.41)

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