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On Becoming GodLate Medieval Mysticism and the Modern Western Self$
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Ben Morgan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823239924

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823239924.001.0001

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The Makings of the Modern Self

The Makings of the Modern Self

Chapter:
(p.125) 7 The Makings of the Modern Self
Source:
On Becoming God
Author(s):

John D. Caputo

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823239924.003.0008

The chapter traces the reaction of Heinrich Seuse to the condemnation of Meister Eckhart's teachings as heretical in 1329. Inquisitorial procedure as it developed after 1215 is presented, showing the structural disregard for the sense of spiritual vocation which informs the vita apostolica. Seuse's response is to develop forms of self-monitoring which pre-empt the controlling structures of the ecclesiastical authorities. The result is the development of techniques of self-control, and an associated vocabulary, that prefigure modern forms of identity. A reading of Seuse's autobiography written in part in the form of a dialogue with the Dominican nun Elsbeth Stagel shows the effect of these new structures on the spiritual symbiosis discussed in Chapter 6. The woman's own experience is replaced by the controlling structures of the male cleric creating a dynamic like that criticized by Irigaray in which the terms of woman's spiritual life are either dictated by clerical discourse or are experienced as threateningly unintelligible. Forms which prefigure modern habits of identity are shown to be practices for regulating human togetherness and the longing to “become God”.

Keywords:   Meister Eckhart, inquisitorial procedure, vita apostolica, heresy of the Free Spirit, Bernard Gui, Heinrich Seuse, Elsbeth Stagel, history of modern self hood, gendered identity, autobiography

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