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Title: Combatting acedia : the neptic antidote
Authors: Sultana, Mark
Keywords: Acedia
Temperance and religion
Drunkenness (Philosophy)
Issue Date: 2019-01-29
Publisher: Wiley
Citation: Sultana, M. (2019). Combatting acedia : the neptic antidote. Heythrop Journal, 1-17.
Abstract: It is scarcely controversial that melancholy, anomie, depression and activism are, alas, practically widespread in our culture. They affect our personal lives and are also prevalent on a cultural level. Similar experiences were described by many: Seneca (alongside Lucretius and Petronius) did so in ancient times, while others who wrote on the topic include Pascal, Kierkegaard, Baudelaire, Bergson, and even Guardini, Steiner, and Norris in more contemporary times. It is clear that, even if there have been great sociocultural changes, this is not a merely contemporary experience. This paper will show that these phenomena have a common root in a spiritual listlesness or restlesness, and that much light can be gathered from the writings of the Desert Fathers and Church Fathers on acedia (as desribed by Evagrius, Cassian and Chrysostom, amongst others). Many counseled nepsis or vigilance. This ‘neptic’ attitude of sobriety seems easy to understand where an attitude like greed or gluttony is involved, but, acedia seems to be a case of a numbing lack of desire rather than one of excessive or misguided appetites. This paper will investigate – with the help of the work of Josef Pieper – what the contemporary face of acedia could be and what nepsis could mean in the present-day scenario.
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