Erik J Scully
Teubner, Leipzig , though to my knowledge there is no English translation. Hadot has apparently based this comparison in Philosophy as a Way of Life p. Similarly, although agreeing with the applied nature of ancient philosophy, Michael Foucault thought the exercises to be techniques of the selfiii rather than spiritual exercises. First, I will argue that they both require the same element of attention.
Second, they both employ the same type of meditations. Thirdly, they both involve intellectual exercises. Fourth, their active exercises are very similar. Lastly, I will show that the main difference between them, the component of Christian dogma, does not undermine their similarities.
Ignatius of Loyola and the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius of Loyola was a XVIth century Spanish soldier who started reading biographies of saints while recovering from a battle wound. The Simple Contemplation method proposes that the readers imagine themselves inside the scene of Gospel stories. Upon his recovery, he enrolled at the University of Alcala where he studied Theology and Latin, then moved to Paris to study at the ascetical College de Montaigu for 7 years.
In Paris he gathered more people around him, founding what came to be known as the Society of Jesus or the Jesuit Order. They are intended 2 This practice — Hadot says — was afterwards employed by Christians through the Bible, similar to the pagan Chaldaean Oracles. The exercises are practiced by members of the Jesuit order as well as lay people, in their entirety or shorter periods of time.
Hadot, vii P1 The ancient philosophical concept askesis self-transformation corresponds to the ancient Christian practice of spiritual exercises. However, Hadot does not provide evidence to support the P4 statement, other than showing that Ancient philosophy has historically influenced Christianity and its philosophers6, being ultimately ousted as a way of life by Christianity.
First, that Rabbow was too restrictive in only referring to the Stoic and Epicurean schools of thought, whereas the phenomenon was more widespread, tracing it to Socrates. For Hadot ancient philosophy was practiced by definition. The reason for limiting the scope of research is not that the succeeding sections of the chapter, i.
The Concept of askesis Hadot begins the chapter Spiritual Exercises with a quote from Georges Friedmann, who concluded that there was no religious tradition that would be compatible for contemporary spiritual demands. Hadot introduces thus the timeliness of this subject — seeking a compatible tradition. The proposition is that exploring these practices might provide the [religious]7 tradition that the contemporary man needs as well as have consequences for comprehending ancient thought and philosophy.
Thus, Hadot brings his first evidence: the historical fact that the concept of askesis appeared originally in antiquity.
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The term denoted the work that one had to employ in order to conquer mastery, being then appropriated by Christianity where it started to have the meaning of asceticism. Hadot evokes here the original meaning of the term, connecting two apparently disconnected expressions which are very in fact very similar in meaning. It is then inferred that anything that helps man in attaining this goal or proves a hindrance, must be treated accordingly.
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Noticeably, this goal and recipe for freedom through removing attachment is very similar to the Stoics. In contrast, the only requests that are done by the practitioner, though not in the sense of waiting to receive but rather working to attain, are the adequate emotions related to the Biblical scene meditated upon. Thus, the practitioner is to set an intention, an inner outcome of the meditation that they want to practice, rather than asking for a certain material or pleasurable thing.
Here he gives the example of the Stoics, who sought to liberate themselves from everything that did not depend on them, such as the linkage of cause and effect. For Ignatius, the ultimate goal of these exercises is using reason to attain discernment, so that the practitioner differentiates between things helping him achieve his goal and things hindering him from it. This situational discernment is also rather uncommon in Christianity, perhaps in order to avoid the risk of relativism.
For him, spiritual exercises went past the ethical part, into dialectic, and logic, as all three of them have a theoretical discourse as well as a lived part. Attention Hadot enlists attention prosoche , as the first important element of spiritual exercises. He defines it as a continuous spiritual vigilance, giving the philosopher constant awareness onto what depends on them and what does not.
Both Epicureanism and Stoicism promoted this, as a focus on the present rather than the past or the future, which do not depend on the individual. The distinction between moral good — virtue, and moral evil — vice is the fundament of the Stoic belief. The element of attention in Ignatian exercises is built-in, because they are intended for a day intensive effort to attain discernment. Library Links. Staff Services News and Events.
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Link Analysis Experimental. In his work on the genre of "spiritual exercise," the scholar of ancient philosophy Pierre Hadot interprets the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises as directly tied to a pre-Christian past. He states unequivocally that the Jesuit Exercises "are nothing but a Christian version of a Greco-Roman tradition. He ends with a cautionary note about the historical importance of Christian spiritual exercises for everyday Christians: "We must not, however, exaggerate the importance of this phenomenon The history of the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises makes this problematic, if not impossible.
The Jesuit Spiritual Exercises are philosophically informed Christian practice and, as I argue in later chapters, provided the means and method through which the philosophical imperative to know oneself was taken up as a way of life by Catholic laity across the globe. Catholic spiritual exercises broadly construed did not remain limited to monastic elites or those closely in their circle; scholarship on the Christian Middle Ages makes Hadot's assertion impossible to uphold.
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In fact, the late medieval period marked the beginnings of a move toward greater introspection and interiority and an increasing investment in now-Christianized spiritual exercises that moved well beyond their monastic beginnings. Rachel Fulton has argued this began when imitation of Christ's passion helped to remedy the disillusionment experienced when, at the end of the millennium, Christ disappointed so many with his failure to return to earth. Transferring the search for Christ inward, Fulton argues persuasively, Jesus would be found in one's heart, marking the advent of an imitation of Christ—feeling and suffering as if with Christ in his passion and death—a critical turning point in Christian piety.
Suffering with Christ became the lynchpin of late medieval imitation of the god-man. To sketch this history in strokes perhaps too broad, we can take the example of the late twelfth-century mystic, Angela of Foligno, for whom knowledge of self was a necessary step toward perfect love of God. Such love moved her, not toward a worldly spirituality, but to a life of seclusion lived as an elaboration of Christ's suffering through, as she described it, "poverty, suffering and contempt. If you leave your cell, you should strive to return to it with sorrow and true contrition. I believe that anyone who does not know how to stay put and remain in a cell ought not to go anywhere; it is not for them to seek out any other kind of good, and they ought not to probe into things which are above them.
Silence equaled safety, while words bound one to the cares and distractions of the world. Kempis's Imitation of Christ remained crucial "suggested reading" for those undertaking the Jesuit exercises well into the eighteenth century, as both Kempis and Ignatius advocated imaginative reflection on Christ's passion and death.
Yet members of late medieval religious orders were often torn between vocations to be of active service in the world or to remain living in cloistered contemplation. Jesuit writings reflected a corporate identity as an order of "pilgrims" and "apostles" who must minister to "the Turks or any other infidels, even those who live in the region called the Indies, or Monks were certainly called to be active in the world.
Gregory, for example, descended from his hilltop monastery to assume the office of pope — Yet in contrast to an enthusiastic engagement with the world, Gregory has been characterized as "the contemplative condemned to action. There would be no Jesuit monasteries, as one Jesuit writer often proclaimed: "We are not monks! But who was this figural monk against whom the Jesuits positioned themselves?
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Here it is important to acknowledge the mendicants also known as friars as the unacknowledged missing link in Jesuit discourse. The mendicants offer an example that falls between the retreat-from-world of pure monasticism and the Jesuit form of worldly Catholicism. Late medieval Christianity has been characterized by the multiplicity of devotional options for lay and religious alike.