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Title: Augustine on the Heart as the Centre of Human Happiness
Authors: Dupont, Anthony * ×
Walraet, Pierre-Paul * #
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Peeters
Series Title: Studies in Spirituality vol:25 pages:45-77
Abstract: The burning heart pierced with arrows is the iconographic symbol of the Church Father Augustine of Hippo (354-430) since the 15th century. This emblem is mainly based on passages in the Confessiones in which Augustine vividly describes that God’s love ‘enflamed’ his heart (Conf. 10, 4; 10, 38; 13, 10), that God’s words ‘pierced’ it (Conf. 9, 3; 10, 8). As such, the metaphor of the heart plays a central role in Augustine’s account of his conversion in the Confessiones, which should be read as the autobiography of the odyssey of his heart, of his quest for God in the intimate centre of his heart (as a process of turning away from exteriority [outside world] and finding superiority [God] in his interiority [heart-soul]). The concept of the human heart does not only feature in Augustine’s account of his turbulent personal life, but plays a central role in his thinking as such. He uses the word cor, Latin for heart, more than 8000 times in his oeuvre. This contribution first explores Augustine’s more general anthropological understanding of the heart as the holistic identity centre of each person, as human interiority in general. Augustine does not oppose heart and head, but sees the heart as the seat both of human thinking and feeling. Second, his specific spiritual interpretation of the heart as the source of self knowledge and knowledge of God – the heart as the centre of human interiority/spirituality – is studied. Four interrelated contexts of Augustine’s ‘spirituality of the heart’ are discussed: the necessity to return to the heart, the appeal to rise up with the heart, the ideal of a society ‘one of heart’ and the invitation to pray with the heart.
ISSN: 0926-6453
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Research Unit of History of Church and Theology
* (joint) first author
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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