Adoration and Annihilation
The Convent Philosophy of Port-Royal
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
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Number 169 Rue Saint-Jacques is a plain brown door on a narrow lane of restaurants, shops, and apartment houses in the shadow of the Sorbonne. When you punch in the proper code, the oak door opens and you walk into a small cobblestone courtyard. When you push in the second code, a glass door opens and you enter a dark tiled entryway. You begin to walk three flights up a sloping wooden staircase as you hold on to the rusted iron railing...
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1. Introduction: A Convent Philosophy
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The thesis of this book is simple. In the seventeenth-century convent of Port-Royal, three nuns, Mère Angélique Arnauld, Mère Agnès Arnauld, and Mère Angélique de Saint-Jean Arnauld d’Andilly, produced a literary corpus of serious philosophical significance. Openly declaring themselves “disciples of Saint Augustine...
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Architect of the reform of Port-Royal, Mère Angélique Arnauld (1591–1661) might appear an odd candidate for the title of philosopher. Her rudimentary education provided little access to the philosophical canon. As abbess she repeatedly warned her nuns about the danger of vanity in theological speculation. In her voluminous correspondence...
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A younger sister of Mère Angélique, Mère Agnès Arnauld (1593–1671) has long suffered oblivion in the shadow of the illustrious reforming abbess. Commentators have routinely contrasted the personalities of the sister abbesses: Angélique the entrepreneur, Agnès the mystic; Angélique the intransigent, Agnès the indulgent...
4. Mère Angélique de Saint-Jean Arnauld d’Andilly: Persecution and Resistance
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The niece of Mères Angélique and Agnès, Mère Angélique de Saint-Jean Arnauld d’Andilly (1624–84) dominates the second generation of the reformed Port-Royal. Enclosed within the convent from her entry into the convent school at the age of six until her death as its abbess, Mère Angélique de Saint-Jean became the leader of Port-Royal’s...
5. Conclusion: A Nocturnal Philosophy
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The philosophy developed by the Arnauld abbesses possesses more than a historical significance. It illuminates several concerns in contemporary philosophy. The writings of the Port-Royal nuns indicate several directions...
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2009