Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Karla Pollmann: The Secular Reception of Augustine

A new tendency that has emerged in the second half of the 20th century and is still on-going is a form of reception that uses Augustine's rich and diverse body of thought as a quarry from which to adapt some of his ideas in a new context, without, however, taking over the metaphysical or theological dimensions which, of course, form an integral part of Augustine's thinking throughout. One could speak here tentatively of a secularisation of Augustine's legacy, that is, an activity of changing or transforming this legacy (or parts of it), so that it is no longer under the control or influence of religion or necessarily depends on the existence of a transcendent world and a (in Augustine's case Christian) God. Naturally, this is a phenomenon typical of recent decades in the Western world in general, where it can also be observed as operative in the spheres of art, education, morality, and society overall. In this contribution we will concentrate on examples pertaining to the reception of Augustine that demonstrate this pattern of reception in a world outside of church and Christianity, comprising political theory, literature, philosophy, psychotherapy, and semiotics.

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