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Maynooth Philosophical Papers

Volume 10, 2020

William Desmond
Pages 57-95

Wording Time. On Augustine’s Confessions XI: Transcriptions, Variations, Improvisations

Rather than abstracting Augustine’s exploration of time from the whole of the Confessions, as philosophers have been tempted to do, I take up his exploration in terms of what I call a ‘companioning relation’ between philosophy and theology. There is a porosity between religion/theology and philosophy in Augustine that need not be taken as a philosophical or theological deficiency. This reflection speaks of Augustine’s intentions and intuitions in terms of the theme: Wording Time. How might one word this wording, and how might Augustine’s approach to time be thus illuminated? I approach the question in different stages, dealing first with theological, ontological, and psychological considerations. Then I follow the breadth of Augustine’s concerns to a sense of sacred heterogeneities that yet are deeply intimate, and to a sense of time that is in communication with what is above time. In keeping with the musical motif that runs through this reflection, I offer some thoughts on agapē as not only an agapē sonans but an agapē personans. I will sometimes be transcribing Augustine’s themes, sometimes offering variations on them, and sometimes composing improvisations in tune with Augustinian themes.

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