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"Inflamed by Daily Practices": John Cassian and Ethical Formation


"'Inflamed by Daily Practices': John Cassian and Ethical Formation" is the first inter-disciplinary treatment of the ethical program fostered by the fifth-century Christian ascetic John Cassian (c.360-c.433). An architect of Latin monasticism, Cassian is a seminal figure in the development of Christian monastic practice through the pronounced influence of his two central texts, the Institutes and the Conferences, listed as required reading in Benedict of Nursia's Rule. Despite his historical influence and a recent increase of scholarly interest in his works, Cassian remains understudied due to his view of human agency that was deemed semi-heretical at the Council of Orange in 529. Influenced by Egyptian desert asceticism, Cassian—engaging in polemics with his contemporary, Augustine of Hippo—takes a generous view of human agency that enables concrete programs for ethical transformation via manual labor, dietary regulation, scriptural meditatio, and inter-personal relations. While Michel Foucault diagnoses Cassian as inaugurating the western fixation on “interiority” and negating the body in the process, a historical-textual reading of Cassian reflects an understanding of the human person as an integrated whole, with bodily, affective, and intellective forms of awareness constituting the person together. This integrated paradigm—which sidesteps binary philosophical categories that contributed to Foucault’s reading—provides resources for constructively thinking about ethics today, emphasizing the practices, emotions, and beliefs that enable people to habituate themselves in patterns of action that constitute ethics as a way of life.
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2014)

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Clements, Niki Kasumi, "'Inflamed by Daily Practices': John Cassian and Ethical Formation" (2014). Religious Studies Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.