Companions in the Between: Augustine, Desmond, and their Communities of Love

By Renée Köhler-Ryan and William Desmond (Foreword)

A comparison of the thought of Wiliam Desmond and Augustine on theological, philosophical and literary lines.

ISBN: 9780227177501


The contemporary philosopher William Desmond has many companions in thought, and one of the most important of these is Augustine. In lucid prose that draws on the riches of a vibrant philosophical-theological tradition, Renée Köhler-Ryan explores Desmond’s metaxological philosophy. She brings together philosophy, theology and literature to elaborate on the conversation that Desmond’s philosophical work in discovering how humans are constantly ‘between’ sustains with a tradition of thinkers that also includes Plato, Thomas Aquinas and Shakespeare.

Whether considering how our elemental wonder at creation brings us closer to God, or how our most intimate revelations about being human happen in the interior space of prayer, reading Desmond with Augustine illuminates a porous and interdisciplinary space of inquiry. With a foreword from Desmond himself, Companions in the Between is a unique contribution to the growing body of scholarship on his thought. Köhler-Ryan’s analysis will entice any reader who wants to know more about how contemporary philosophy can contest a space where philosophers are formulaically expected to shy away from divine transcendence.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 183

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Renée Köhler-Ryan is a Dean of the School of Philosophy and Theology and Professor of Philosophy on the Sydney campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia. She is editor of Living the Catholic Tradition (2019).


Foreword by William Desmond

Part 1: Creation and Reflection: Augustine, Desmond, and Cosmos
1. An Archaeological Ethics: Augustine, Desmond, and Digging Back to the Agapeic Origin
2. “No Block Creation”: Good and Evil in William Desmond’s Augustinian Philosophy of Elemental Order

Part 2: Becoming Porous: The Aesthetics of Prayerful Contemplation
3. Gifted Beggars in the Metaxu: A Study of the Platonic and Augustinian Resonances of Porosity in God and the Between
4. Thinking Transcendence, Transgressing the Mask: Desmond Pondering Augustine and Thomas Aquinas
5. On Speaking the Amen: Augustinian Soliloquy and Shakespearean Porosity in the Metaxu

Part 3: Citizenship in the Between: Building the Porous City
6. Love and Friendship in the Metaxu: Becoming Agapeic in Community
7. Intimate Friendship and the Christian Cosmopolis: Jerome’s Challenge in the Metaxu



Endorsements and Reviews

In the spirit of metaxological thinking, Renée Köhler-Ryan takes the reader on a philosophical voyage in good company. Thinking through some of the most profound existential themes, such as creation, prayer and community, Köhler-Ryan brings together the likes of Plato, Augustine, Shakespeare and William Desmond. She offers a tantalising reflection in a time when professorial philosophy would rather avoid going into the depths of the abyss to re-emerge reborn. The final word – the amen – is not yet spoken. This is a thought-provoking work by a splendid philosopher.
Dennis Vanden Auweele (KU Leuven), editor of Thinking Metaxologically