Tuesday, 21 May 2019
Alexander Ferrant: Divine Rhetoric and the Restless Heart: Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on Persuasion and the Passions
Augustine characterizes Divine Revelation as rhetorical. In other words, God exercises a kind of 'art of persuasion' by which he moves the human heart to seek him and to rest in him. Starting from this Augustinian understanding of divine rhetoric, this paper is an analysis of Thomas Aquinas’ account of the 'passions of the soul' or 'the emotions' (passiones animae). Using his 'Treatise on the Passions' (Summa Theologiae, Prima Secundae, Question 22-48),I argue that Aquinas’ understanding of passions as movements of the sense appetite with respect to imagined goods provides an effective tool to understanding the restlessness of the human heart in concrete situations, and it shows how God quadivine rhetorician might persuade the human heart through actual life and emotions to rest in him.