Augustine's letters: negotiating absence.




Koester, Kristen Ann

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Reading Augustine’s letters as a collection proves useful for understanding his theory in practice of the significance of others—the moral status of love for others—particularly since the conditions of the letter (absence, writing) engender expressions of lack and desire for the other. With Augustine, this desire is frequently in tension with his Neoplatonic and Christian philosophical commitments which valorise the Creator over the creature, universally-directed love over private love, and the soul over the body. Following these tensions between theory and practice chronologically through the letters shows his changing responses to the significance of the other, in terms of their bodily presence and their individual interior experience. Moreover, Augustine’s developing theory of the afterlife as a place of continued embodiment and the fulfilment of intimacy corresponds to and models Augustine’s responses to absence and longing in this life.



Saint Augustine, Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Love, Desire, Language, Body, Neoplatonism, Self, Intimacy, Afterlife, Relationships