‘Enquiry into the Truth and the Spiritual Exercises’

(2005) Naoki Kamimura, ‘Enquiry into the Truth and the Spiritual Exercises: A Study of Augustine’s Soliloquia’ (in Japanese), Kyodai Studies in Mediaeval Philosophy, 24 (Kyodai Society of Mediaeval Philosophy) 20–30.
Originally delivered at the Kyodai Studies in Medieval Philosophy 179th Seminar, held at Kyoto University, Kyoto, on 28 May 2005.
Augustine’s Soliloquies is the most particular of the four treatises written at Cassiciacum in the period following his decisive conversion. Although these four writings could be read as representing his spiritual and intellectual season, in which Augustine points up the Hellenistic sensibility to the pursuit for beatitude and truth, only the Soliloquies offer a preface prayer and a meditative conversation between Augustine and a figure named Reason.
I consider (1) the initial part of Book I preceding the prayer. (2) With resolving some ambiguity in his indications, I assume a comprehensive point of view on the structure of the Soliloquies. (3) Those discussions allow for a proposal on the reading of the prayer.(1) Before offering his prayer, Augustine undertakes his self-assessment with Reason (Sol. 1.1). Reason admonishes him for (a) praying for health and help with his enquiry, (b) writing down what he invokes, and (c) summarising his conclusions for a few of his fellows. Our central concern for its advice is a qualification of his audience, the “few”.
(2) The expression of the “few” occurs repeatedly in the Soliloquies. (a) Sol. 1.2: God shows the truth to the “few”, and those few contemplate that evil has no being. (b) Sol. 1.4: hear me in your way known to so “few”. Those few comprehend “your way”, namely the divine will for human perfection. (c) Sol. 2.25: there are so “few” know anything about the discipline of disputation. Identified the discipline as the truth, it follows that the “few” would commit to the truth.
(3) Why does Reason admonish Augustine for summarising his results and showing them to the “few”? His use of the “exercere – exercitatio” supports a hypothesis that the Soliloquies were designed as the handbook of spiritual exercises. (a) Sol. 1.23: soul should be trained on its way towards wisdom. The description of the ascent to wisdom has some parallel with the dialogue between Augustine and Reason. (b) Sol. 1.27: Reason calls its direction of their talk “some moderate exercise”. (c) Sol. 2.34: Reason asks him to be trained to have sight of the difficult problems.
We find all these expressions at the turning points of this work. Thus, the overall design of the Soliloquies is defined as the practical training for spiritual exercises. There are some debates so fundamental to the understanding of the Soliloquies that arose the discrepancy in the appreciation of prayer. I assume that a kind of principle for interpreting the prayer is supplied by the viewpoint of spiritual exercises for his reader.
Paper proofs in PDF format downloadable.
Uncorrected Proofs — please cite the published version.