Martin Heidegger's reading of the Pauline Christian Augustine against the Neoplatonic Augustine in his lecture course of Summer 1921 radicalizes the human search for goodness to the stark realities of the historically contingent human being finding herself totally dependent on the historically revealed God even for the initiatives of that search. Centering his gloss on Book Ten of the Confessions, Heidegger focuses his interpretation on the distressed concern (cura) that defines the human heart, in contrast to the Platonic eros deliberately abstracted from its this-worldly context. Cura is etymologically related to quaero, seeking and questing, in order to highlight two other Augustinian themes that favor the historically situated sense of Christianity. "I have become a question to myself" and "The life of man on earth is a trial." The final theme of this constellation centered on distressed care is the fear that necessarily accompanies perfect love. The competing biblical texts, ''The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever" and "Perfect love casts out fear" are brought into hermeneutic harmony by Augustine's distinction between timor servilis and timor castus, where the latter, as pure and noble fear, is a perfect fear that must remain forever in the relationship of gratuitous gratitude between finite humanity and the Absolute God of History.

By way of summary, Heidegger's two conceptual schematisms on becoming a Christian, one Pauline and the other Augustinian, are compared and contrasted. Viewing the Augustinian diagram through the Pauline diagram serves to cull out the quietistic elements stemming from Augustine's Neoplatonism and highlight the tensed elements of acute anticipation that belong to the enduring Christian experience.


Issue contains the subject matter of the 1994 Philosophy Colloquium, which had the theme "Augustine on Human Goodness: Metaphysics, Ethics and Politics." It was held April 7-9, 1994.



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