1 O'Donnell 1992, 3:124.
2 Translations throughout the chapter are my own. I have followed O'Donnell's text.
3 Agreeing as I do with Du Roy's view that 7.17.23 merely redescribes the experience of
7.10.16, I do not scruple to jump back and forth between the two passages in making my case for the difference between what happened at Milan and what happened at Ostia. My case is complicated somewhat if you take 7.10.16 to narrate an unsuccessful Plotinian "ascent" and 7.17.23 a successful one, but not much: the essential point—that Augustine regards the vision at Ostia as utterly different from anything he could have got from the Platonists—remains unaffected.
4 Auden 1945, 466. A number of writers have commented on the way in which Augustine in the
Confessions links his sinfulness with alienation from human community and his moral regeneration with his restoration to a proper relationship not only with God but with his fellow human beings. See in particular Crosson 1999.
5 On this see O'Donnell 1992, 2:473.
6 This account of the Ostia vision provides a sharp contrast not only with the Milan ascent as it is narrated in Confessions 7 but with the ascents prescribed in De quantitate animae and De Genesi contra Manichaeos, both dated around 388, about ten years earlier than the Confessions. As Martha Nussbaum notes, "Even the receptivity of faith—not mentioned at all in De quantitate animae—figures in De Genesi contra Manichaeos only as the early precondition for the beginning of intellectual activity, in stage one. Once intellect takes over, it no longer plays a role" (Nussbaum 1999, 86, n. 10). So the emphasis on hearing and faith in Confessions 9 has to be taken as a repudiation not only of the sheer intellectualism of the Plotinian ascent of Milan, before his conversion, but also of his own uncritical appropriation of neo-Platonism earlier in his career as a Christian.
7 So Augustine comments in Sermon 362, "What is 'ictus oculil It is not the time in which we open or close our eyelids; ictus means the sending forth of rays in order to see something. For no sooner do you direct your gaze than the ray that is sent forth reaches to the heavens." And in Sermon 227, "Ictus oculi is not in the opening and closing of the eyelids; for it takes longer to do that than it does to see. You raise your eyelids more slowly than you direct the ray; your ray reaches the heavens faster than your eyelid rises toward the eyebrow. You see, then, what ictus oculi is; you see what quickness the Apostle has ascribed to the resurrection."
8 I am grateful to participants in the Richard A.Baker Colloquium in Philosophy at the
University of Dayton, and in particular to Marcia L.Colish, for their helpful comments.
Auden, W.H. 1945. For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio. In The Collected Poetry of W.H.Auden. New York: Random House.
Augustine. 1992. Confessions. Edited by J.J.O'Donnell. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Crosson, F. 1999. "Structure and Meaning in St. Augustine's Confessions." In The Augustinian Tradition, edited by G.Matthews, pp. 27-38. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Du Roy, Olivier. 1966. L Intelligence de la foi en la Trinité selon saint Augustin, genèse de sa théologie trinitaire. Paris, Études augustiniennes.
Gard, R. 1992. Jane Austen's Novels: The Art of Clarity. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Mandouze, A. 1968. Saint Augustin: L Aventure de la raison et de la grâce. Paris: Études augustiniennes.
Nussbaum, M. 1999. "Augustine and Dante on the Ascent of Love." In The Augustinian Tradition, edited by G.Matthews, pp. 61-90. Berkeley: University of California Press.
O'Donnell, J.J. 1992. Augustine: Confessions. 3 Vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
SECTION FOUR CREATION
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