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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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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.3) Introduction
Source:
Soliloquies
Author(s):

Michael P. Foley

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300238549.003.0001

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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