Augustine and the Art of Decreation: Ethics and Self-Transformation

In the Confessions of Saint Augustine, we find an account of ethical self-transformation whereby he, through conversion, transforms to a person of faith. By engaging Deleuze’s concepts of becoming and non-organized body, this chapter will show that there is a necessary element of decreation in ethical self-transformation and becoming: in order to become ethical one does not simply develop oneself, but is also, in significant ways, unmade. A richer understanding of Augustine’s account of ethical transformation is achieved by connecting it with his (only seemingly separate) accounts of habit and of genesis. Deleuze’s concept of the non-organized body provides the conceptual resources for a careful analysis of the significance of “formless matter” (as the capacity for change) in Augustine’s account of genesis. This analysis enables a complex account of ethical becoming that calls for a careful art of decreation.

A Research and Publication Project