Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship

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Overview

"Augustine - for all of his influence on Western culture and politics - was hardly a liberal. Drawing from theology, feminist theory, and political philosophy, Eric Gregory offers here a liberal ethics of citizenship, one less susceptible to anti-liberal critics because it is informed by the Augstinianism tradition. The result is a book that expands Augustinian imaginations for liberalism and liberal imaginations for Augstinianism." Gregory examines a broad range of Augustine's texts and their reception in different disciplines and identifies two classical themes which have analogues in secular political theory: love - and related notions of care, solidarity, and sympathy and - and sin - as well as related notions of cruelty, evil, and narrow self-interest. From an Augustinian point of view, Gregory argues, love and sin constrain each other in ways that yield a distinctive vision of the limits and possibilities of politics.
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Editorial Reviews

Christian Century
A joy to read . . . a return to an Augustine that Augustine himself would have recognized.

— Jason Byassee

Choice

"Gregory has shaped the parameters of future discussion and offers a compelling argument that must be taken seriously."

History of Political Thought
This is a phenomenal piece of scholarship. . . . Gregory respects no disciplinary boundaries and draws deeply from a number of different wells. Understanding the giants of Christian thought requires no less. Also, his reading of Augustine is astute and promisingly embedded in larger theological themes. Let Gregory's work be a model for how to read great Christian thinkers on various topics, including politics and social theory.

— Geoffrey C. Bowden

Interpretation
This challenging and erudite book has much to offer both to those concerned with the relationship of Christianity to liberal democracy and those seeking to understand the Christian imperatives to love God and neighbor.

— Christopher R. Helton

Cornel West

“Eric Gregory is the most sophisticated and subtle Christian ethical and political thinker of his generation. He also is a major voice in contemporary discourse on love and justice, freedom, and democracy. His powerful defense of Augustinian civic liberalism is a tour de force!”
Jean Bethke Elshtain

“We live in a golden age of Augustinian scholarship. Eric Gregory's book stands out as a glittering example of that scholarship at its most balanced, provocative, and erudite. Politics and the Order of Love is, quite simply, required reading.”
Oliver O'Donovan

“Perhaps one book in three manages to advance a discussion significantly. Perhaps only one book in ten that discusses Augustine in relation to contemporary thought does justice to both its ancient and its modern concerns. Eric Gregory’s book does both of these things. It is the kind of work that can arise only from living with the discussions for a long time and hearing every participant out. It will leave us all rethinking the way we ask our questions.”
Charles Mathewes

“Eric Gregory shows complete command of several immense scholarly literatures—on liberal citizenship, on religion and politics, and on Augustine—and he uses that mastery to make a compelling case for his own proposal of an Augustinian ‘civic liberalism.’  Most exciting for this reader are the potential alliances he teases out between putative rivals such as secular feminist ‘ethics of care’ theorists, prophetic religious figures such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Martin Luther King Jr., and Augustinian moralists, noting provocative consonances and potential affiliations between them. This is a work by which secular political thinkers of various stripes cannot help but be instructed, theologians of different traditions cannot help but be illuminated, and citizens—religious and otherwise—of liberal polities cannot help but be invigorated. Take and read!”
Stanley Hauerwas

“Eric Gregory is one of the best young thinkers in the field of Christian ethics, and this book shows remarkable erudition and scholarly judgment. I learned a ton from Politics and the Order of Love and am in Gregory’s debt for the fairness with which he discusses those with whom he agrees but also those with whom he disagrees.”
James Wetzel

“In his learned proposal for a liberal politics of love, Eric Gregory draws heavily on the inspiration of Augustine of Hippo and shows us how liberalism can be both democratic and psychologically profound. His aim is not to liberalize Augustine but to use Augustine to free liberalism from its traditional fear of deep waters. Politics and the Order of Love is the most important book on Augustinian politics since Saeculum.”
James J. O'Donnell

"Gregory's learning and authority range widely enough to include the complex ramifications of the thought of Augustine and at the same time the nuances of contemporary debate in political theory.  This impressive book will shape and advance the dialogue of political philosophy in our time precisely because it is so well and calmly rooted in ancient learning."

Choice
"Gregory has shaped the parameters of future discussion and offers a compelling argument that must be taken seriously."-Choice
Christian Century
"A joy to read . . . a return to an Augustine that Augustine himself would have recognized."-Jason Byassee, Christian Century

— Jason Byassee

Interpretation

"This challenging and erudite book has much to offer both to those concerned with the relationship of Christianity to liberal democracy and those seeking to understand the Christian imperatives to love God and neighbor."

— Christopher R. Helton

History of Political Thought
"This is a phenomenal piece of scholarship. .
— Geoffrey C. Bowden
Christian Century - Jason Byassee

"A joy to read . . . a return to an Augustine that Augustine himself would have recognized."
History of Political Thought - Geoffrey C. Bowden

"This is a phenomenal piece of scholarship. . . . Gregory respects no disciplinary boundaries and draws deeply from a number of different wells. Understanding the giants of Christian thought requires no less. Also, his reading of Augustine is astute and promisingly embedded in larger theological themes. Let Gregory's work be a model for how to read great Christian thinkers on various topics, including politics and social theory."
Interpretation - Christopher R. Helton

"This challenging and erudite book has much to offer both to those concerned with the relationship of Christianity to liberal democracy and those seeking to understand the Christian imperatives to love God and neighbor."
Political Theology

". . . . Gregory offers an energizing contribution that is richly theological, philosophical, and sensitive to concrete reality by the very terms of his argument."
Modern Theology

". . . . in the ranks of the most important studies in contemporary Augustinian political theology."
Books & Culture

". . . . if non-religious political theorists have one chance to hear an Augustinian voice, it should be Eric Gregory’s. This is a major contribution to contemporary discussions in religion and politics…anyone interested in Christian theology’s engagement with public life ought to read it."
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Liberals of all stripes, and even non-liberals, need to read this book."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226307510
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 434
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Gregory is assistant professor of religion at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Augustine and Modern Liberalism 1

1 Beyond Public Reason: Love, Sin, and Augustinian Civic Virtue 30

2 From Vice to Virtue: The Development of Augustinian Liberalism 75

3 A Liberal Ethic of Care: Feminist Political Theory and Christian Social Ethics 149

4 Love as Political Vice: Hannah Arendt's Augustine 197

5 Love as Political Virtue: "Stoics" and the Problem of Passion 241

6 Love as Political Virtue: "Platonists' and the Problem of God 319

Conclusion: Remembering Augustine: The Exhausted Politics of Pessimism, Skepticism, and Nostalgia 363

Bibliography 385

Index 407

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