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620 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 35:4 OCTOBER ~997 discussion of ethical matters. The term sageis the most important in Dillon's title; even in Stoicism ethics for the sage is remote from us, and in Plotinus it is more so. Clark brings in more familiar ethical questions, if less directly. These articles give the book balance, and in particular they will give it balance for those who come new to Plotinus. HAROLD TARRANT Universityof Newcastle Brian Stock. Augustine the Reader:Meditation, Self-Knowledge,and theEthics of Interpretation . Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996. Pp. 463 . Cloth, $39.95. Brian Stock provides contemporary readers with a systematic, though selective, guidebook to Augustine's meditations on reading. In addition to his exhaustive display of Augustinian scholarship, Stock raises profound questions regarding the ethics of interpretation , questions also of considerable interest to postmodern hermeneutics. Stock's perusal of Augustine's writings on reading encompasses ~78 pages of text, 34 pages of bibliography, and 2o58 endnotes, many of them extensive. Stock's investigation is without precedent among English-speaking writings on Augustine. Oddly enough, Stock's magisterial study is difficult to read. For one thing, it requires continual page-turning, from text to endnote to bibliography, and back to text again. The endnotes often have extensive references; unfortunately some are not listed in the bibliography. There is no index of discussed passages. Reading Augustine theReader can be overwhelming, since Stock has so much material to download. Occasional sentences in his main text appear to be written primarily as home pages for endnotes. At the heart of his exposition Stock relies on diagrams (e.g., 196), which this reader did not find helpful. What Stock primarily provides is a series of interlocking exegeses of selected Augustinian texts on the theme of reading as a means of self-discovery and enlightenment. Exegesis of Books 1-9 of the Confessionscomprises the first half of his text, while the second half explores a range of other writings, in addition to the account of time in Confessions ai. Those other texts include letters (e.g., De VidendoDeo),De Magistro and De Dialectica, as well as De Utilitate Credendi, De Continentia, De Doctrina Christiana, De CatechizandisRudibus, and especially De Trinitate 8-15" Said Liddell to Scott, "My God what a lot!" But unfortunately there is so much else left out. For instance, Stock passes by, almost without mention, Augustine's incisive remarks on the plasticity of interpretation at Confessions 1e, as well as Augustine's extensive ruminations regarding historical versus allegorical readings of the Bible running throughout several books of the Cityof God. Every text Stock does discuss is well displayed, but there are just as many texts undone. By comparing what Stock himself has written with the nearly looo items in his bibliography, I found myself impressed with the impossibility of even attempting a final analysis of Augustine. To attempt to read every word of every page Stock cites, complete with their own fully noted references, prior to attempting an analysis of one's BOOK REVIEWS 621 own, could result in a never-ending scholarship which might silence further writing. It is no wonder that an author who has taken himself on such a journey should prove to be so sceptical of Augustine's views on reading. Stock's interpretation would reaffirm a kind of scepticism found in Augustine's early writings, "an anti-utopian view of reading" where, according to Stock, Augustine acknowledges "the hopelessness of human interpretive efforts." One major source for this pessimistic hermeneutics lies in the relational view of reading Augustine advocates, where what is read must be filtered through the reader. But this did not lead Augustine to scepticism. To be sure, Augustine did not have to read what other scholars would write of him, enough to sour his optimism. "ToUe, lege, take and read" was the meditative moral of Augustine's carefully crafted Confession,. It was emblematic of his conversion to Christianity, as well as his earlier conversion from grammar to rhetoric, and then from rhetoric to philosophy. Indeed, "tolle, lege"was emblematic of Augustine. As Augustine reflected on the journey his life had taken, he...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 620-621
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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