Friday, 1 May 2015

Frederick Russell: Familial Imagery, Corporal Punishment and Augustine's Just War

This builds on “Augustine’s Contradictory Just War” of  2011.  Augustine uses the familial imagery of a father disciplining a child in support for his Christiansation of just war in Contra Faustum, where he also says that obedience to princely authority in warfare is also natural. These became problematical.  According to Robert Markus (Saeculum), Augustine later divided providence into natural providence, including the natural subjection of inferiors to superiors, and voluntary providence, which deals with the wills of humans.  This latter includes the de facto subjection not according to merit of some humans to others, such as ruler and ruled, or master and slave.  Governments distort natural relations by their sin of libido dominandi.  Augustine did not apply natural subordination to political authority, even when he could.
My argument is that for Augustine political authority in secular wars came to be grounded in power, not  justice, and obedience was only circumstantial.  The structure of ordered relations he earlier envisaged tumbled down on the natural level.  But the Contra Faustum is an early work, before his disillusionment with earthly peace, and so he there asserted the applicability of familial imagery in support of just war, and the naturalness of princely authority.  Later, in the City of God and elsewhere, he would weaken his justification for wars and punishments without divine sanction.

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