Graduate School
Welkom by Universiteit Stellenbosch

Dr Michael Coombes

Home country: South Africa

Year of enrolment: 2011

Graduation date: April 2014

Department:  Ancient Studies

Supervisor: Dr Annemaré Kotze

Dissertation title: Augustine's Contra Fortunatum : Perspectives from critical discourse analysis and argumentation theory


Abstract: Augustine of Hippo remains one of the most prominent and influential figures in the world of Catholicism, famous for his many writings and sermons on Catholic Christianity as well as his ardent defence of it. His debate with Fortunatus, a member of the Manichaean faith presented Augustine with one of his defining moments as a member of the Catholic clergy. This is because Augustine had only been a presbyter in the Church at Hippo for a few months when this debate took place and therefore had much at stake against his wily opponent. To make matters even more complicated for Augustine, he himself had been a Manichee for at least nine years and knew Fortunatus as a skilled debater. But rhetoric, or the art of persuasion, was a field in which Augustine excelled, having both a natural proclivity for speaking as well as the formal education behind it. Chapter one begins with an introduction to the debate, the primary characters, and the religions involved. Chapter two continues with an exposition of Augustine and his association with Manichaeism and then goes on to describe Augustine‟s anti-Manichaean works. From this point, chapter two continues with a section on Manichaeism, its spread, its myth and its practice. From this contextual basis, chapter three deals with the methodology of Critical Discourse Analysis and the three most important characters in the form of Halliday, Fairclough and van Dijk. This chapter is followed by another chapter on theory: Argumentation Theory. Chapter four includes subsections on van Eemeren and his methodologies of Pragma-Dialectics and Strategic Maneuvering. The analysis chapters of this dissertation begin with chapter five which deals with concepts from Critical Discourse Analysis and Argumentation Theory. This chapter includes subsections on categories of enquiry, followed by a section on a number of recurring devices, namely: answering questions, changing the topic and quoting scripture. A Critical Discourse Analysis section follows with subsections that include difference, evaluation and knowledge as a common ground component of contexts. This in turn is followed by sections on Argumentation Theory and Strategic Maneuvering, which include subsections on economy, efficacy and coherence; realism and wellfoundedness; logical reasoning process and pragmatic inferences; reasonableness versus effectiveness; the rhetorical perspective; discussion strategies; dialectical aims versus rhetorical aims and deceptive manoeuvring. The final analysis chapter, the Contra Fortunatum in context, includes subsections on the opening of the debate, the structure of the debate and the topics of discussion. Within this last section subsections on the Nebridian conundrum, the origin of evil, and free will occur. The next subsection dicusses topics not mentioned in the debate: the Manichaean myth, Mani and the previous friendship between Fortunatus and Augustine. Following this there are sections on Manichaeism presenting itself as a form of Christianity, the debaters talking past each other and the issues of audience composition and power relations between the various role players. Chapter seven takes a concluding look at the issue of who should be designated the winner of the debate.

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