Lecture 5 - RELIGIOUS STUDIES 90A Professor Nicklaus...

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RELIGIOUS STUDIES 90A Professor Nicklaus Largier 09/10/09 Lecture 05 ASUC Lecture Notes Online is the only authorized note-taking service at UC Berkeley. Do not share, copy or illegally distribute (electronically or otherwise) these notes. Our student-run program depends on your individual subscription for its continued existence. These notes are copyrighted by the University of California and are for your personal use only. D O N O T C O P Y Sharing or copying these notes is illegal and could end note taking for this course. LECTURE Augustine and Reading . Tuesday we talked about the excerpt you read from the Confessions ; the book is much longer of course. It’s an exemplar of the act of reading as a kind of preparation for conversion and for conversion itself; as well as a way of sustaining faith. It teaches us how to become a reader of scripture in a correct way, so that we are moved and affected deeply as he was. He frames his conversion and faith in terms of the practice of reading the scriptures. He is also following the example of Ambrose, who is a reader of scripture. Augustine goes through great turmoil and finds the right way to religion and finally understands the scriptures. He is overwhelmed by this understanding as it takes shape; he knows he is overwhelmed by the tears that flow. He undergoes a kind of transition from imposing meaning on the text to crying as he receives meaning from the text. He makes a transition from the literal sense of the scriptures which he sees in part as a historical document, to a grasping of symbolic meaning. This is part of all traditions based on texts where scriptures are taken as a form of revelation or founding authority. To see the text as an authority you must transcend the historical meanings and get to the transcendent meanings; this has a powerful effect on the reader. Augustine privileges something highly experiential, what we call the performative aspect of the work that has a powerful effect on those who experience it. Reading is very important for Augustine. It’s not just about learning and knowing things, but about having his psychic life altered. It shapes his actions and experience and ethical behavior and leads him to peace and freedom. He goes from turmoil to peace and freedom. Methodology Questions in Discussion Section. In your sections some of you had questions about what I said regarding the importance of distancing ourselves from ourselves when we read texts written long ago. We see this in Augustine and Anthony. There is a kind of positive nature to self alienation. The concept of alienation goes back to Marx and the idea that working people in modern capitalist societies suffer alienation in work. But it is an old term that has positive connotation in some contexts; especially Anthony’s self alienation. You have to distance yourself from yourself in the reading. Augustine overcomes his commonplace understandings of the text and goes beyond himself in his conversion to Christianity. You move away from what is known and stable and
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Lecture 5 - RELIGIOUS STUDIES 90A Professor Nicklaus...

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