Friday, 17 May 2019
Eetu Manninen: Avoiding Shame in Augustine's Early Dialogues
This presentation considers Augustine’s portrayal of shame as a hindrance for searching the truth in a philosophical dialogue and his ways to take this problem into account in his early dialogues. In the Soliloquies (Sol. II.7.14) Reason expresses her worry that the fear for embarrassment in the face of a defeat in an argument could be an obstacle for wholehearted search of the truth; Rather than admit his error, one may cling to his own stance to save his face. In my presentation I will examine, how this concern is visible in the awkward instances in Augustine’s dialogues, where their characters make mistakes in logic and are corrected by their dialogue partner. The conclusion is that Augustine addressed the problem of shame in his dialogues by presenting instructions how to avoid shaming one’s erring dialogue partner and by constructing exemplary reactions to these kinds of uneasy situations. In this way Augustine wanted to invite and encourage his readers to a fearless search of the truth.