Augustine And Politics

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The study of Augustine's political teachings has suffered from a history of misreadings, both ancient and modern. It is only in recent years that the traditional lines of "Augustinian pessimism" have been opened to question. Scholars have begun to explore the broader lines of Augustine's political thought in his letters and sermons, and thus have been able to place his classic text, The City of God, in its proper context. The essays in this volume take stock of these recent developments and revisit old assumptions about the significance of Augustine of Hippo for political thought. They do so from many different perspectives, examining the anthropological and theological underpinnings of Augustine's thought, his critique of politics, his development of his own political thought, and some of the later manifestations or uses of his thought in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and today. This new vision is at once more bracing, more hopeful, and more diverse than earlier readings could have allowed.

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Editorial Reviews

Highly recommended.
James K. A. Smith
For Augustine, theology was a kind of critical theory undertaken in the shadow of empire. In this probing collection from an outstanding team of scholars, the critical force of Augustine's politics is brought to bear upon contemporary civic theologies and the empire of capital. Out of these studies emerges a compelling picture of Augustine as an important resource for contemporary social theory.
Eric S. Gregory
This rich collection provides a needed accessible guide to the current renaissance of Augustine studies and its implications for the diverse revival of interest in political Augustinianism. More importantly, however, by upsetting conventional assumptions about both Augustine and politics, it offers a welcome interdisciplinary conversation that a figure like Augustine allows and deserves. Far from another volume on 'religion and politics,' it draws on careful historical research and energetic theological developments in order to help us critically think with Augustine about liberalism, democracy, capitalism, civil society, and humanism. If your image of Augustine relies on categories like pessimism and otherworldliness, be prepared for surprises. Take up and read!
Highly recommended.
Charles Mathewes
The past several decades have seen a revolution in scholarship on Augustine. A historically contextualized and theologically dynamic Augustine has replaced previous, more procrustean and static depictions. But only fairly recently have theologians, philosophers, and political thinkers discovered and begun to harvest that work. This volume collects some of the first fruits of this harvest. Not only are the received Augustinian political categories discussed, but a new set of lenses are applied as well. Monasticism, terror, family, friendship, consumerism—these and other topics are invigoratingly engaged. Theologically astute, politically savvy, this collection offers enormous rewards for thinking about Augustine, about politics, and about 'life in the world' in general. A great blessing.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Doody is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Kevin L. Hughes is Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University. Kim Paffenroth is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College.

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Table of Contents

Dedicatory preface
1 United inwardly by love : Augustine's social ontology 3
2 Truthfulness as the bond of society 35
3 Friendship as personal, social, and theological virtue in Augustine 53
4 Freedom beyond our choosing : Augustine on the will and its objects 67
5 Between the two cities : political action in Augustine of Hippo 99
6 Democracy and its demons 117
7 Local politics : the political place of the household in Augustine's City of God 145
8 Augustine and the politics of monasticism 165
9 The glory and tragedy of politics 187
10 Toward a contemporary Augustinian understanding of politics 217
11 Sexual purity, "the faithful," and religious reform in eleventh-century Italy : Donatism revisited 237
12 The enchanted city of man : the state and the market in Augustinian perspective 261
13 Machiavelli's City of God : civic humanism and Augustinian terror 297
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