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Allegory and Sexual Ethics in the High Middle Ages by Noah D. Guynn (auth.)

By Noah D. Guynn (auth.)

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Sample text

But if he is able to persuade his readers that certain kinds of readings represent inadmissible, calamitous errors, then his own readings of Scripture, and the orthodoxy they eventually construct, may be thought to provide superior insight into truth. Succinctly put, in order to bolster the authority and orthodoxy of his interpretation of the faith, Augustine invents scapegoats whose moral failures or deficiencies must be mitigated in order to guarantee, at least provisionally, the wholeness and moral rectitude of the community of true believers.

How can evil be conceived RHETORIC, EVIL, AND PRIVATION 21 by the mind and represented in signs? How does the cultural, literary, and philosophical depiction of evil operate within a historical and material frame? In what ways does it mystify real conditions in order to stabilize a dominant mode of social and political organization? Ultimately, I will argue that a philosophy, theology, or aesthetics of the symbol does not simply lead to an awareness of human laws as discursive and contingent, but also motivates attempts to distinguish more rigorously truth from falsehood, good from evil, in bono readers from in malo ones.

Grace can only be bestowed through the agency of the Church, which requires strict obedience both to its own rule and to that of imperial Rome. The invention of universal culpability serves not only to regulate rhetoric and the body, but also to stabilize an established ideological order. Evoking the potential for error embodied in all human agents, who can, through their waywardness, introduce defect into the sacred language of Scripture, Augustine suggests the ongoing need for vigilance on the part of a disciplinary clergy.

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