Thursday, 23 May 2019
Eileen Sweeney: Love, Friendship and Community: From Patristic to Medieval Notions
This paper will consider the ways in which notions of love, friendship and community in Augustine and Cassian influenced Anselm of Canterbury and Bernard of Clairvaux, and also remains within the Aristotelian account of friendship in Aquinas. The accounts laid down in Augustine and Cassian carried through to the Medieval period are radically different both from notions of friendship and communal life in Aristotle as well as in classical liberal political theory in Hobbes, Locke or Rousseau. These patristic and medieval views share an account of moral obligation to the other rather than the self, and founded in love rather than on reason. We will look for Augustine and Cassian’s influence in Anselm’s letters on monastic friendship, Bernard’s Steps of Humility and Pride, and Aquinas’ notions of charity and friendship.