Guest Lecture: Language, Selfhood and Fallenness: The Influence of Augustine of Hippo on Heidegger’s Being and Time


24 Nov 2014




This paper will explore the significance of Augustine’s philosophy, particularly his account of fallenness for Heidegger’s Being and Time and particularly on the accounts of selfhood, fallenness, mood, temporality and discourse therein. In the first part I will examine Augustine’s discussion of the three modes of fallenness where the self loses itself in bodily pleasure, in distraction or curiosity and most especially in the temptations of social existence inherent in being a speaking being in community with others. Guided by Heidegger’s own reading of Augustine in his 1921 course ‘Augustine and Neo-Platonism’ and the work of Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault and Craig DePaulo, I will show how in Augustine’s philosophy fallenness brings about a loss of self-understanding, a loss of the capacity to account for oneself and a loss of the ability to speak truly. The movement of fallenness in Augustine brings about a dispersal across time as the self finds and understands itself in terms of one transitory possibility after another. The countermovement to this fallenness is the self’s seeking its rest in God whose λόγος lies within the self and which, unlike the transitory pleasures of the world, is ever present. I will then show how, in Being and Time, Heidegger formalizes Augustinian anthropology. It is fallenness into social existence and the uprooted discourse and the problem of understanding and understanding that goes with this that is of especial significance for the existential analytic. As in Augustine, fallenness in the existential analytic entails a dispersion across possibilities that are presented by the social world without being inherently meaningful to the self. I will argue that it is Heidegger’s formalization of Augustinian fallenness allows him to disclose the existential justification for the conception of time as a ‘now series.’ I will conclude by arguing that Heidegger’s account of the countermovement to fallenness, however, is oriented not towards the divine λόγος but towards the λόγος of the world or letting the world speak.


All are welcome.




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