Friday, 17 May 2019
Spiros Makris: The influence of Saint Augustine of Hippo in Hannah Arendt's political and ethical theory
The influence of Saint Augustine of Hippo in Western theology and philosophy is a strong fact within the discipline of Intellectual History. One of the most constructive relationships between Saint Augustine and the contemporary ethical and political thought concerns his strong influence on the spiritual, reflective and academic course of the eminent German-Jewish thinker Hannah Arendt. Arendt, under the supervising of Karl Jaspers in Heidelberg, wrote her dissertation thesis on the concept of love in Saint Augustine, transforming Augustine's notion of amor Dei into the phenomenological, existential, political and ethical idea of amor mundi. Drawing her innovative narrative from the Augustinian concept of natality, Arendt, as Marx did with Hegel, put Saint Augustine's theology into the world and for the love of the world (amor mundi). In this vein, it could be strongly said that Arendt formulates a kind of a pioneering political theology, specifically a republican political theology, where the amor Dei turns into a fierce love for public space or, in other words, for an agonistic pursuing for public happiness. Arendt's political and ethical reading and interpretation of Saint Augustine's patristic theology constitutes one of the most appealing and productive elective affinities in the long-term Western Intellectual History.