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SoliloquiesSt. Augustine's Cassiciacum Dialogues, Volume 4$
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Saint Augustine

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300238549

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300238549.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction

Michael P. Foley

Yale University Press

This chapter presents an overview of St. Augustine's Soliloquies. The completion of the first two books of the Soliloquies in the winter of A.D. 386/387 was a groundbreaking accomplishment. Although the philosophical dialogue was by then a well-established genre, it was unprecedented to have an entire work devoted to a conversation between a man and himself. Part of the originality of the Soliloquies lies in its personification of Reason, who serves as Augustine's sole interlocutor. In an earlier dialogue, Augustine had narrated a scenario in which Reason speaks to himself; in the Soliloquies, Augustine augments this conceit by depicting Reason speaking on his own and directly to Augustine. In addition, it is unusual in a philosophical dialogue for the character that best epitomizes the philosophical life to assume a subordinate role. If the Soliloquies contributes to the quest for self-knowledge, it also shines a light on some of the obstacles in the way. Much of the Soliloquies is also devoted to the question of whether the human soul is immortal.

Keywords:   St. Augustine, Soliloquies, philosophical dialogue, Reason, philosophical life, self-knowledge, human soul, immortality

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