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Christian Robert Moevs
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$42,000 (approved)
$42,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2008 – 5/31/2009

Dante's Commedia and the Mysticism of the Contemplative Tradition

The project situates Dante's Comedy within the context of the Western contemplative ("mystical") tradition, as one of the key texts of that tradition (a task last undertaken, and then only cursorily, in 1913). It provides a rigorous comparative analysis, on a philosophical foundation, of Dante's Comedy in relation to the key treatises on contemplation from Saint Augustine to Meister Eckhart. The Comedy and the treatises illuminate each other, because they share an ultimate goal (to lead the human mind to the direct experience of God), and a shared metaphysical premise: the approach to divine union is a growth in self-knowledge, knowledge of the ontological ground that human consciousness shares with self-subsistent being. I argue that the medieval contemplative tradition flows through Aquinas and culminates in Eckhart and Dante as its true heirs.