Figuring the Porous Self: St. Augustine and the Phenomenology of Temporality



This article examines the phenomenological structures of the homo temporalis filtered through Augustine's illuminating, if unsystematic, insights on temporality and the imago Dei. It situates such a phenomenological interpretation of the Augustinian self in view of current interpretations that polarize or split the Augustinian self into an either/or scheme—either an “interior” self or an “exterior” self. Given this imbalance, the article suggests that a phenomenological evaluation of Augustine brings to light how interior and exterior spheres are deeply integrated. The article elaborates this position by contending that the self's temporal streaming within the exterior world-horizon is inescapable because it reflects basic constituents of a self created by God which is nevertheless capable of contemplating a God who transcends time. This seeming paradox is resolved by recourse to what is described as the “double entry” of the self. The temporal streaming of the self in the world-horizon (entry one) is porous to the eternal inwardly (entry two); the eternal entry is thus interior and analyzable in terms of a non-reflective self-awareness on display in Augustine's De Trinitate; and finally Augustine's understanding of the temporality of faith indicates how the self of faith can be lived in light of Heidegger's emphasis on the future and Husserl's emphasis on the past.