Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Sean Hannan: The Enforcement of Violence & the Force of Love in Augustine: Epistle 93 & its Aftermath

In her theo-political reading of Augustine, Hannah Arendt expressed discontent over the rhetoric of love in Augustine, insofar as it could lead to a totalitarian blurring of distinctions between individuals in the public sphere. To paraphrase Eric Gregory, Arendt preferred a kind of ‘Kantian respect’ between persons to the reckless abundance of Augustinian ­_caritas_. And yet it remains possible that Augustine’s rhetoric of love harbours transformative political potential in a way that Arendtian ‘respectability politics’ does not. To make that case, this paper re-reads Augustine’s controversial defence of coercion in Epistle 93, both in light of Peter van Nuffelen’s recent work on coercion and with an eye to contemporary theo-political applications of the letter. Doing so will allow us to better appreciate how, for Augustine, the coercive force of the Christian community was akin to a “mother’s love.” (93.13.53)

No comments:

Post a Comment