St augustine political philosophy

Probably no course is more interesting to teach than one on St.

St augustine political philosophy

Context Only four of his seventy-five years were spent outside Northern Africa, and fifty-seven of the remaining seventy-one were in such relatively out of the way places as Thagaste and Hippo Regius, both belonging to Roman provinces, neither notable for either cultural or commercial prominence.

However, the few years Augustine spent away from Northern Africa exerted an incalculable influence upon his thought, and his geographical distance from the major intellectual and political capitals of the Later Roman Empire should not obscure the tremendous influence he came to exert even in his own lifetime.

Here, as elsewhere, one is confronted by a figure both strikingly liminal and, at times, intriguingly ambivalent. He was, as already noted, a long time resident and, eventually, Bishop in Northern Africa whose thought was transformed and redirected during the four brief years he spent in Rome and Milan, far away from the provincial context where he was born and died and St augustine political philosophy almost all of the years in between; he was a man who tells us that he never thought of himself as not being in some sense a Christian [Confessions III.

Perhaps most striking of all, Augustine bequeathed to the Latin West a voluminous body of work St augustine political philosophy contains at its chronological extremes two quite dissimilar portraits of the human condition.

St augustine political philosophy

In the beginning, there is a largely Hellenistic portrait, one that is notable for the optimism that a sufficiently rational and disciplined life can safely escape the ever-threatening circumstantial adversity that seems to surround us.

Nearer the end, however, there emerges a considerably grimmer portrait, one that emphasizes the impotence of the unaided human will, and the later Augustine presents a moral landscape populated largely by the massa damnata [De Civitate Dei XXI.

The sheer quantity of the writing that unites these two extremes, much of which survives, is truly staggering. There are well over titles [listed at Fitzgeraldpp. It is arguably impossible to construct any moderate sized and manageable list of his major philosophical works that would not occasion some controversy in terms of what is omitted, but surely any list would have to include Contra Academicos [Against the Academicians, — C.

Born in C. He subsequently taught rhetoric in Thagaste and Carthage, and in he made the risk-laden journey from Northern Africa to Rome, seeking the better sort of students that was rumored to be there.

Saint Augustine | Biography, Philosophy, & Major Works |

Disappointed by the moral quality of those students academically superior to his previous students, they nonetheless had an annoying tendency to disappear without paying their feeshe successfully applied for a professorship of rhetoric in Milan.

Augustine's professional ambitions pointed in the direction of an arranged marriage, and this in turn entailed a separation from his long-time companion and mother of his son. After this separation, however, Augustine abruptly resigned his professorship in claiming ill health, renounced his professional ambitions, and was baptized by Bishop Ambrose of Milan on Easter Sunday,after spending four months at Cassiciacum where he composed his earliest extant works.

Shortly thereafter, Augustine began his return to Northern Africa, but not before his mother died at Ostia, a seaport outside Rome, while awaiting the voyage across the Mediterranean.

Not too long after this, Augustine, now back in Thagaste, also lost his son The remainder of his years would be spent immersed in the affairs and controversies of the Church into which he had been recently baptized, a Church that henceforth provided for Augustine the crucial nexus of relations that his family and friends had once been.

InAugustine was reluctantly ordained as a priest by the congregation of Hippo Regius a not uncommon practice in Northern Africain he was made Bishop, and he died August in Hippo, thirty-five years later, as the Vandals were besieging the gates of the city.

However, when Augustine himself recounts his first thirty-two years in his Confessions, he makes clear that many of the decisive events of his early life were, to use his own imagery, of a considerably more internal nature than the relatively external facts cited above.

From his own account, he was a precocious and able student, much enamored of the Latin classics, Virgil in particular [Confessions I.

Life overview

However, at age nineteen, he happened upon Cicero's Hortensius, now lost except for fragments [see Straume-Zimmermann ], and he found himself suddenly imbued with a passion for philosophy [Confessions III. It is clear from his account of Cicero's effect upon him that his passion was not for philosophy as often understood today, i.

For Augustine, the problem was of a more general and visceral sort: In this sense, the wisdom that Augustine sought was a common denominator uniting the conflicting views of such Hellenistic philosophical sects as the Epicureans, Stoics, Skeptics, and Neoplatonists though this is a later title such as Plotinus and Porphyry, as well as many Christians of varying degrees of orthodoxy, including very unorthodox gnostic sects such as the Manicheans.

Augustine himself comes to spend nine years as a hearer among the Manicheans [see Brownpp. The Manicheans proposed a powerful, if somewhat mythical and philosophically awkward explanation of the problem of evil: By means of sufficient insight and a sufficiently ascetic life, however, one could eventually, over the course of several lives, come to liberate the Light within from the surrounding Darkness, thus rejoining the larger Light of which the soul is but a fragmented and isolated part.

As Augustine recounts it in the Confessions [see Confessions V. De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae 1], he became disenchanted with the inability of the Manichean elect to provide sufficiently detailed and rigorous explanations of their cosmology.

As a result, he began to drift away from the sect during his sojourn in Rome, flirting for awhile with academic skepticism [Confessions V. When Augustine eventually comes to write about the Manicheans, there are three features upon which he will focus: According to Augustine, this latter identification not only serves to render the human soul divine, thereby obliterating the crucial distinction between creator and creature, but it also raises doubts about the extent to which the individual human soul can be held responsible for morally bad actions, responsibility instead being attributed to the body in which the soul itself quasi material is trapped.

The single most decisive event, however, in Augustine's philosophical development has to be his encounter with those unnamed books of the Platonists in Milan in While there are other important influences, it was his encounter with the Platonism ambient in Ambrose's Milan that provided the major turning point, reorienting his thought along basic themes that would persist until his death forty-six years later.

There has been controversy regarding just which books of the Platonists Augustine encountered [O'Connellpp.

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These uncertainties notwithstanding, Augustine himself makes it clear that it was his encounter with the books of the Platonists that made it possible for him to view both the Church and its scriptural tradition as having an intellectually satisfying and, indeed, resourceful content.

As decisive as this encounter was, however, it would be a mistake simply to view Augustine's writings as the uncritical application of a Neoplatonic framework to a static body of Christian doctrine. In his earliest writings [e. Contra Academicos, C. But by the time he composes the Confessions —C.

Part of this gradual change of attitude is attributable to his detailed study of scriptural texts especially the Pauline lettersas well as his immersion in both the daily affairs of his monastic community and the rather focused sorts of controversies that confronted the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries.

Beyond his already noted, protracted battle with Manicheanism, there is also his involvement in the North African Donatist controversy [see Brownpp.

St. Augustine Political Philosophy - Essay

In this latter case, serious issues arose regarding the role of grace and the efficacy of the unaided human will, issues that, as we will see, played an important role in shaping his views on human freedom and predestination.St Augustine of Hippo was the earliest thinker to develop a distinctively Christian political and social philosophy.

He does so mainly from the perspective of Platonism and Stoicism; but by introducing the biblical and Pauline conceptions of sin, grace and predestination he radically transforms the 'classical' understanding of the political.

St augustine political philosophy

Saint Augustine: politics as City of God (theocracy) What is the majeur change brought by St. Augustine‘s political thought since to the revelation?Simple answer is: Introducing God as the foundation of politics, as its foreground.

The Start of onto-theology of Augustine is: men are equal, but created by God as subjects. Augustine: Political and Social Philosophy St. Augustine ( C.E.), originally named Aurelius Augustinus, was the Catholic bishop of Hippo in northern Africa. He was a skilled Roman-trained rhetorician, a prolific writer (who produced more than works over a year period), and by wide acclamation, the first Christian philosopher.

Augustine (— C.E.) St. Augustine is a fourth century philosopher whose groundbreaking philosophy infused Christian doctrine with Neoplatonism.. He is famous for being an inimitable Catholic theologian and for his agnostic contributions to Western philosophy. In this remarkably acute analysis of the essence of St.

Augustine's place in political philosophy, McCoy was conscious of the subtle ways in which the philosophic and moral virtues, that is, the ways of the philosopher and of the politician, could lead to frustration in their own orders.

Augustine: Political and Social Philosophy St. Augustine ( C.E.), originally named Aurelius Augustinus, was the Catholic bishop of Hippo in northern Africa. He was a skilled Roman-trained rhetorician, a prolific writer (who produced more than works over a year period), and by wide acclamation, the first Christian philosopher.

Augustine | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy