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Mateusz Stróżyński on Spiritual Practices in Augustine

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The tape rolls on, and we turn to spiritual practices in Augustine. We discuss the ‘turn inward’ in Augustine, where he riffs on Plotinus but takes things in a new, inward direction which would be very fateful for the west-European ‘mystical’ tradition, Augy’s spiritual experiences upon reading the libri Platonicorum and doing what he found there, namely turning away from he external, spatial reality and inward, to the incorporeal ‘place” of the soul. There he saw a light which was eternity, truth, and love, ontologically prior to himself. We discuss the kind of ‘seeing’ under discussion here – and not just seeing; all the senses have inner analogues – and its nature as a ‘temporary’ state. Finally we turn to divinisation in Augustine, – interweaving paradoxes and the de-centering of the human identity awake to the intimate presence of its creator – and its status as an esoteric thread running through the Confessions.

Interview Bio:

Mateusz Stróżyński (born 1979) is classicist, philosopher, psychologist and psychotherapist. He is interested in contemplation and spiritual exercises in ancient philosophy, primarily in the Platonist tradition (Plotinus and Augustine), but he has also published on Marcus Aurelius and the medieval Christian mystic Angela of Foligno. He is an associate professor in the Institute of Classical Philology at Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU) in Poznań, Poland, and the Director of the Institute since January 2021. His plans for the nearest future include an international research project on Angela of Foligno and heterodox Franciscan movements ca. 1270-1320 (awarded recently by the National Science Centre in Poland) as well as completing this book: Plotinus on the Contemplation of the Intelligible World: Faces of Being and Mirrors of Intellect, Cambridge: University Press, 2024 (in press).

Recommended Reading:

Mateusz Stróżyński. Time, Self, and Aporia: Spiritual Exercise in Saint Augustine. AugStud, 40(1):103-20, 2009.

Idem. Voice of the Bridegroom: Allegorical Exegesis as Spiritual Exercise in Book Eleven of Augustine’s Confessions. Augustiniana, 65(3-4):141 67, 2015.

Idem. Psalmody and Spiritual Exercise in Book Nine of Augustine’s Confessions. Augustiniana, 68(1):25-58, 2018a.

Idem. Spiritual Exercise in the Proem to Augustine’s Confessions. Augustinian Studies, 49(2):22145, 2018b.

Idem. The Ascent of the Soul as Spiritual Exercise in Plotinus’ Enneads. Mnemosyne, 74(3):44877, 2020.