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Essays listed in chronological order starting with most recent. For archives, please see previous volumes below.
  • Writer's pictureRudy Bauer

Hermeneutics , St. Augustine and Innermost Awareness

Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D., Author

St. Augustine lived during the 6th. Century. Heidegger and Gadamer utilized Augustine in their understanding of Hermeneutics. His work helped them formulate positions that went beyond idealistic thinking. Augustine’s work helped them go beyond the predicative statement alone and helped Heidegger and Gadamer understand that the predicative statements completion is through the readers mind. Augustine’s work helped them go beyond the literal predicative statement and to the revelation of the experience of meaning from within the reader’s awareness.

Augustine’s work on the incarnation of the word in the text De Doctrina Trinitates helped Heidegger understand the difference between understanding the text and the living experiential truth of experience.The desire to understand the text is not simply an epistemological process between subject and object. There is a difference between the translation of the word of the text literally and the meaning of the words  subjectively. There is a difference between the word as literal and the word as the innermost  meaning There is the innermost meaning, the self understanding or the innermost understanding that participates in the understanding of the text.

Heidegger as well as Gadamer  focus on Augustines differentiation between actus signitus and actus exercitus. This is the difference between what the statement simply says and what happens to the understanding of the person who has read the statement, who is experiencing the re-presentation of experience. The statement is not only a propositional or literal statement but the statement invokes a meaning or experience within the reader or hearer. It is necessary to be open to the meaning of each word and what the word implies  explicitly and implicitly to the reader. As St.Thomas said whatever is received is received according to the mind of the receiver.He also said what you do not have you can not give. So working beyond  propositional language is what Heideggers means as hemeneutical. Propositional or representational language is the language of mind.

The completion of the meaning of the text depends on motivation and the interpretation of the text..The completion of the textual meaning is within and from within the reader or hearer’s own awareness.Out of the situation of the text and the situation of the reader meaning arrives. Understanding of the text is a co emergent process. What is within every word is what makes understanding possible.How the reader experiences the words gives meaning to this co –emergent process. Implied in this discussion is the differentiation of mind and innermost awareness in this co emergent process of meaning and understanding.

The first framing of this experience is the relationship between the mind and the innermost mind of the speaker or writer. And within this framing is the relationship between the mind and innermost awareness of the receiver or hearer or reader.

The second framing is the mind as words and symbols and being understood by the others mind as receiver. The third framing and a deeper framing is the words and symbols of the mind of one person being understood and experienced by the innermost awareness of the other person. And the same with the reversal that is the innermost awareness of one person being formulated though the language of mind by that same person and being communicated through and to the mind of the receiver so that the innermost awareness of the receiver experiences the innermost awareness of the speaker or writer.

Truly this is the hermeneutic circle.

Whatever is said the saying reflects an innermost word. By innermost word Augustine implies non conceptual knowlingness or as he call this the language of the heart. Whatever is conceptually said reflects ultimately a non conceptual understanding. Whatever is reflectively said there is a background of prereflective understanding.There is the verbum interious. Behind each word uttered there is an inner word or verbum interius. Augustine makes a difference between the inner word and the outer word. The original speech is the inner word or the language of the heart. We might even consider this inner word as the non conceptual understanding. This non conceptual understanding is given expression through language and words of the discursive and representational mind. This non conceptual understanding is given expression through signifiers of meaning. The place where the signifiers arise is the mind  and where the mind arises is from where? From the subjectivity of the who, the place of awareness, the heart essence. This of course is the no thingness of subjectivity.

The non conceptual understanding within the heart essence has not yet taken the form of a particular  sensuous historical language. It is necessary to go beyond words and letters to reach the innermost verbum, inner most understanding, innermost knowingness. This intimate word of psyche or the inner heart essence becomes expressed through  the senuous form of concrete language. The inner word will not be expressed completely as it is ,but can be expressed  and understood from the view of our physical world of language. The original understanding or nonconceptual thought is the language of the heart, the language arising from spaceousness or emptiness. When we hear a word in physical concrete language we attempt to understand the word in reference to the innermost meaning. The inner word or language of the heart or language of awareness has no sensuous or material form. There is an arising out of the no thingness of awareness or spaceousness which is vibrational experience which becomes sound syllables and  sound images and the sound as language.It is necessary to go beyond or within the sensuous language in order to reach the innermost true verbum. When the word of psyche or of the heart takes place in physical sensuous form of language it can be expressed and articulated through sound and signifiers of meaning. But the signifiers of meaning are not actually what it is as the primary form.Our language is not an exact copy of our experience of our innermost awareness or non conceptual awareness as thoughts.

Gadamer wonders what does the inner word mean, this inner knowningness within and which is beyond words and letters, beyong signifiers. Yet words and letters arise from and within this inner heart essence and becomes mind and language. This verbum cordis(language of the heart)  suggest that we not take the linguistc sign as the final or complete expression of the heart of knowningness. The inner word does not refer to a particular language and does not have the character of words hovering in our mind, being brought forth by memory. This inner heart essence ultimately  involves thinking through to the completion of the experience  of the subject matter. This articulation of the prereflective knowningness but unthought until thought through and re-expressed . So there is this paralleling process of mind and awareness. Sometimes awareness provoking mind and influencing mind and sometimes the mind function on its own via association without contact within the innermost awareness. This is called mind alone..Mind alone is associative in nature.

For Gadamer the understanding of verbum interious leads to a dialectical conception of language. For us the dialectical is first between mind and awareness of ones self and secondly. the mind and awareness of otherness. Language accomplisheds itself  in propositional and representational words  or signifiers  in  dialogicalness. There is a never ending dialogue between the innermost awareness and the mind . The innermost awareness within ones own mind and then with  mind of the other .The primary dialogue is between the innermost awareness of ones self and the innermost awareness of the others self being articulated through minds. It most be understood the there can be a direct connection between the innermost awareness of one person and the innermost awareness of the other.This is the power of the extension of awareness field, the power of gnosis.

The inner word or language of the heart is the origin of understanding and knowningness but is beyond words and signifiers. Within this heart of awareness the essence of experience is known directly and from within this space of awareness language arises to manifest in sound and syllables the essence of experience. Translation is brought forth from the vibrational splendor arising as sound  and as meaning that becomes the outer word, the language of the mind and the understanding of the mind, mediated knowledge. Mediated knowledge is the physical knowledge of signs and signification which is energy and sound as script.

The word of the heart can be known through and to the other directly inside to inside, direct knowningness. The language of the heart is this knowningness manifesting through the field as the vibrational meaning of the heart  space. Sapientia(divine wisdom) dwells and arises from within the heart space. This arising can be directly known self to self through the medium of the field. The inner ying meeting the outer ying. This inner knowledge can be language through the mind in approximation to the innermost meaning. This is nature of mediated knowledge from  mind to mind and from mind to innermost awareness. This knowningness can be both mediated and unmediated though the field of awareness both as extended continuum of awareness and the expressed language within the medium of the field infusing the mind of sender and mind of receiver.

Of course whatever is received is receiver through the mind of the receiver in accordance to the mind of the receiver. Also what you do not have you can not give and so in a more profound manner what you do not have you may not be able to receive. That which is known through and from the space of the heart may not be understood by mind alone.

When the inner word is not recognized or felt then there will only be the felt sense of lack. This is similar in the situation of Lacanian psychoanalysis. The Lacanian self is lack. This lack arises as the space of innermost awareness which is felt to be void and not alive. So when there is only lack fantasy arises and attempts to fill the lack and this is an illusionary undertaking. This same lack can be experienced in certain forms of Buddhism wherein the innermost awareness is not experienced nor understood to be alive and to  be the full of presence of awareness as awareness.

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