Cambridge Catalog  
  • Your account
  • View basket
  • Help
Home > Catalog > Augustine's Inner Dialogue
Augustine's Inner Dialogue


  • Page extent: 256 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.55 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 270.2092
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: BR65.A9 S68 2010
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Augustine,--Saint, Bishop of Hippo
    • Soliloquy
    • Monologue
    • Self
    • Spiritual exercises

Library of Congress Record

Add to basket


 (ISBN-13: 9780521190312)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$103.00 (C)
Augustine’s Inner Dialogue
Cambridge University Press
9780521190312 - Augustine’s Inner Dialogue - The Philosophical Soliloquy in Late Antiquity - By Brian Stock

Augustine’s Inner Dialogue

Augustine’s philosophy of life involves reviewing one’s past and exercises for self-improvement. Centuries after Plato and before Freud he invented a “spiritual exercise” in which every man and woman is able, through memory, to reconstruct and reinterpret life’s aims. Brian Stock examines Augustine’s unique way of blending literary and philosophical themes. He proposes a new interpretation of Augustine’s early writings, establishing how the philosophical soliloquy (soliloquium) has emerged as a mode of inquiry and how it relates to problems of self-existence and self-history. The book also provides clear analysis of inner dialogue and discourse and how, as inner dialogue complements and finally replaces outer dialogue, a style of thinking emerges, arising from ancient sources and a religious attitude indebted to Judeo-Christian tradition.

Brian stock is Emeritus Professor of History and Literature at the University of Toronto. His previous publications include The Implications of Literacy (1981) Augustine the Reader (1996) and Bibliothèques intérieures (2005).

Augustine’s Inner Dialogue

The Philosophical Soliloquy in Late Antiquity

Brian Stock

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Dubai, Tokyo, Mexico City

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge cb2 8ru, uk

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:
© Brian Stock 2010

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2010
Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data

Stock, Brian.
Augustine’s inner dialogue : the philosophical soliloquy in late Antiquity / Brian Stock.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-521-19031-2 (hardback)
1. Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. 2. Soliloquy. 3. Monologue.
4. Self. 5. Spiritual exercises. i. Title.
BR65.a9s68 2010

ISBN 978-0-521-19031-2 Hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

In memory of Pierre Hadot

and for Ilsetraut Hadot


Preface and acknowledgements
Augustine of Hippo (354–430): dates in his early career
List of abbreviations
1     Toward inner dialogue
2     Soliloquy and self-existence
3     Order and freedom
4     Narrative

Preface and acknowledgements

In an earlier study entitled Augustine the Reader (1996) I attempted to trace the stages of development of Augustine’s outlook as a reader and to situate this skill within his approach to meditation, interpretation, and the search for self-knowledge. My attention was chiefly devoted to the narrative books of the Confessions (books one to nine) in an effort to describe how Augustine’s story of himself as a reader harmonized with what can be learned about his understanding of texts from his philosophical and theological writings in the period before and after the writing of his autobiography.

This book was initially conceived as a companion volume in which I intended to make a more detailed analysis of these problems within the writings known as “the dialogues” than was possible in Augustine the Reader. However, as the study progressed, this plan was gradually modified and eventually abandoned altogether. The topic of reading, with which my earlier book was concerned, is not absent from Augustine’s early writings, as Catherine Conybeare has recently reminded us, but only emerges with clarity in De Doctrina Christiana (396) and the Confessiones (397–400). In the decade before these works were composed Augustine had other interests as well, and one of these is taken up in the pages that follow. I am referring to the use of inner dialogue as a “spiritual exercise” and to the rôle which such exercises play in the formation of a narrative philosophy and theology.

This book deals primarily with this question in the period 386–400, since it was during this time that Augustine composed most of his inner dialogues. However, in Chapters 2 and 4, I am obliged to go beyond these dates and examine works written later, such as De Civitate Dei, De Trinitate, and De Genesi ad Litteram. My chief reason for extending the study’s chronological range is that in these writings Augustine completes his thinking on many of the topics taken up in his early writings, such as words, images, memory, time, and self-existence, which are important topics in his soliloquies. In moving beyond his early years I am also acknowledging a feature of his writings as a whole, namely their “episodic” character. On many topics in his philosophy and theology Augustine does not develop his ideas in a systematic fashion, but, like an essayist in the Montaigne tradition, returns again and again to a few central concerns, on each occasion adopting a slightly different approach. It is often necessary to compare these statements in order to arrive at a consolidated view of his meaning.

The idea of writing this book first occurred to me during a Residency at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center of the Rockefeller Foundation, which is located not far from Cassiciacum, the country estate in the hills above Milan where Augustine’s first dialogues are thought to have been conceived. I was subsequently invited to conduct seminars dealing with the volume’s themes at the Collège de France, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome. In bringing the study to completion I have been greatly assisted by the libraries of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, and the Institut des Études Augustiniennes, Paris. I am especially indebted to two librarians, Bill Edwards in Toronto and Claudine Croyère in Paris. I also thank Jean-Luc Lory, the director of the Maison Suger of the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, for his gracious hospitality.

I would like to express my gratitude to my gifted graduate students in Berkeley, Paris, and Toronto, as well as to the colleagues who have generously given me their advice at different stages of the project. These include Isabelle Bochet, Peter Brown, Nello Cipriani, François Dolbeau, Martine Dulaey, Brad Inwood, Aviad Kleinberg, Seth Lerer, Anthony Long, Donald Mastronarde, Virgilio Pacioni, Jean Pépin, John Rist, Richard Sorabji, and above all the late Goulven Madec, whose knowledge of Augustinian scholarship was possibly unrivalled in our time. I have profited greatly from conversations on the Augustinian heritage in later centuries with an eminent authority on medieval philosophy, l’abbé Édouard Jeauneau. Maruja Jackman carefully read the drafts of my commentaries on the dialogues, while Fred Unwalla and Lindsay Waters gave me the advice of experienced editors at a later stage of writing. Finally, I acknowledge the many benefits I derived from a long friendship with Pierre Hadot, whose work on ancient and late ancient philosophy has been a major source of inspiration: Quae potui et sicut potui de tantis tantillus contuli (De Mus., 6.17.59).

© Cambridge University Press
printer iconPrinter friendly version AddThis