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Stanley L. Jaki
The Mind and Its Now


In the paper, it is first argued that the motto of this conference, or Augustine's phrase, "Quaestio mihi factus sum," is given a false meaning if taken out of context. It is Augustine's puzzlement about the right measure of enjoying Church melodies as part of prayer which he held to be "the raising of the mind to God.” Augustine the Christian, or rather the Catholic, never suffered for a moment of what the moderns call "identity crisis.” Then it is argued that any such crisis is tied to the slighting of the importance of man's self-awareness which has two fundamental aspects: One is the connection of self awareness of man's experiencing it through moments which he calls now. It is still widely recognized by anti-metaphysical positivists who stake all on scientific knowledge that the now cannot be handled by exact science, either experimen­tally or theoretically. The other fundamental aspect is that the momentary experience of the now fuses into a unitary awareness of self-identity which reaches from the present moment, even into the distant past of fifty or eighty years, and confidently anticipates future moments in the life of the individual. Such is the basis of social life, including its legal aspects, and also of man's longing for a lasting or eternal now for himself and indeed for a union with that eternal NOW which is a personal God. To slight this longing as a sort of wishful thinking involves disastrous conse­quences for the construc­tion of a cohesive world view.

Stanley L. Jaki, a Hungarian-born Catholic priest of the Benedictine Order, is Distinguished University Professor, at Seton Hall University, South Orange, N J, USA.  He has doctorates in physics and in theology.  For most of the last fifty years, he has specialized in the history and philosophy of physics and astronomy, including their relation to theology.  The author of more than fifty books, he had served as Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh (1974-76), and as Fremantle Lecturer at Balliol College (Oxford) 1977.  He is membre correspondant de l’Academie des sciences, des arts et des belles lettres de Bordeaux, honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, and a recipient of the Lecomte du Nouy Prize for1969 and of the Templeton Prize for 1987.  His full list of publications (up to 2002 with over 500 entries) can be found in his intellectual autobiography, A Mind’s Matter.  His website is


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