Must society be grounded in religion St Augustine

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Must society be grounded in religion? St Augustine, City of God PHIL 1003, 2008

Must society be grounded in religion? St Augustine, City of God PHIL 1003, 2008 -09

Overview • Communitarianism of – Plato: community of women, children, property – Aristotle: polis

Overview • Communitarianism of – Plato: community of women, children, property – Aristotle: polis – Augustine: res publica and City of God • They believe the whole—the community— is more than the sum of the parts • Implications for today?

Who was St Augustine? • • b. 354 -d. 430 C. E. N. Africa

Who was St Augustine? • • b. 354 -d. 430 C. E. N. Africa Christian mother, pagan father 373: adopts Manichean religion 375 -87: teacher of rhetoric 387: conversion to Christianity 388 begins contemplative life 391: establishes monastery, ordination to priesthood • 395: Bishop of Hippo • 397: Confessions published • A “father of the Church”; doctrine of original sin

Confessions Autobiography Statement of faith Shows power of God to convert sinners

Confessions Autobiography Statement of faith Shows power of God to convert sinners

Confessions: Pre-Christian Phase • “I went to Carthage, where I found myself in the

Confessions: Pre-Christian Phase • “I went to Carthage, where I found myself in the midst of a hissing cauldron of lust…. ” (Confs. , Bk III. 1). • “…I was also studying for the law. Such ambition was held to be honourable and I determined to succeed in it. The more unscrupulous I was, the greater my reputation was likely to be…” (Confs. , Bk III. 3). • “…when I first read the Scriptures…they seemed quite unworthy of comparison with the stately prose of Cicero” (Confs. , Bk III. 5).

Manicheanism • • Proscribed (forbidden) sect Dualist materialism Eclectic: included Christianity and other religions

Manicheanism • • Proscribed (forbidden) sect Dualist materialism Eclectic: included Christianity and other religions Based on false science, including astronomy and astrology (Confs. , Bk V. 3 -7) • Basic tenets – evil and good are physical substances – body is corrupt; – Elect eat only vegetables filled with light in order to purify their bodies.

Platonism • Cicero’s Hortensius gave A. desire for “wisdom of eternal truth”; • Yet

Platonism • Cicero’s Hortensius gave A. desire for “wisdom of eternal truth”; • Yet he still “could imagine no kind of substance except such as is normally seen by the eye” (Confs. , Bk VII. 1); • “books of the Platonists” opened him to the supersensible realm (Ideas, Forms) (Confs. , Bk VII. 9). • Key to his acceptance of Christianity: – God is immaterial, incorruptible (like the Forms); this is true reality – Good and evil are not embodied as Manichees believed.

Key theological ideas • Problem of evil: where does it come from? – Manichean

Key theological ideas • Problem of evil: where does it come from? – Manichean answer: from corrupt physical elements: the body, certain foods – Christian (Aug. ) answer: from misuse of free will [but why do we misuse it? !] • God is good and everything in us that is good comes from God (Confs. , Bk I. 20) • Doctrine of original sin—even babies would sin if they could (Confs. , Bk I. 7)

City of God A reply to the pagans

City of God A reply to the pagans

The pagan case against Christianity • The Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the

The pagan case against Christianity • The Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the 3 rd century C. E. • Edict of Milan made Christianity legal (but not official) in 313 C. E. • Constantine gave buildings, lands and privileges to the Church; baptized on his death bed (337 C. E. ) • Christianity spread widely in the army and cities • 391 Christianity becomes state religion • Pagans claimed that Christianity destroyed Rome.

Augustine’s reply to the pagans • Roman religion was polytheist; Christianity is monotheist; •

Augustine’s reply to the pagans • Roman religion was polytheist; Christianity is monotheist; • First charge: Roman gods did not assure their worshippers’ morals • E. g. Obscene theatricals violate universal notion of respect for parents (2. 4) • Poets not allowed to slander men, but cast aspersions on the gods (2. 14) • Cites Plato’s expulsion of poets from his city in speech (2. 14)

Augustine’s reply, cont. • Romans’ morals corrupted for centuries; • Republic (BCE) supposed to

Augustine’s reply, cont. • Romans’ morals corrupted for centuries; • Republic (BCE) supposed to be moral than the Empire; • But even late Republic corrupt (1 st cent. BCE); • Pagans--Sallust, Cicero—admit this themselves; • So Roman gods must be to blame; • Yet pagans blame Christianity for a moral decline that pre-dates Christianity (2. 19)!

Augustine’s reply, cont. • Cicero considers whether republic/city requires justice; • “Republic” = “the

Augustine’s reply, cont. • Cicero considers whether republic/city requires justice; • “Republic” = “the affair of a people” (res publica, the “public thing”); • A “people” = not just any grouping; • But “a fellowship united through a consensus concerning right and a sharing of advantage” (2. 21); – Like Aristotle’s polis!

Augustine claims that on this definition, Rome was never a republic in the true

Augustine claims that on this definition, Rome was never a republic in the true sense.

Why? • “…the republic never existed because true justice was never present in it”;

Why? • “…the republic never existed because true justice was never present in it”; • “However…a certain sort of republic did exist, and it was directed better by the earlier Romans than by the later ones”; • Because “true justice does not exist except in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ” (2. 21, p. 21).

What is true justice? • “The iniquitous institutions of human beings must not be

What is true justice? • “The iniquitous institutions of human beings must not be said or thought to exist by right”; • “…justice is that virtue which distributes to everyone his due. What sort of justice is it, then, that takes a man away from the true God and subjects him to unclean demons? ” • “…when a man does not serve God, what in him can…belong to justice? . . . the soul can in no way justly rule the body, or human reason the vices” (19. 21).

Shared advantage • “…”there is no advantage to any who live impiously, as do

Shared advantage • “…”there is no advantage to any who live impiously, as do all who do not serve God” (19. 21). • “…the Romans have up to this point served evil and impure demons…” – e. g. Romans’ animal sacrifices were demonic • “We ourselves—his city—are the best and most radiant sacrifice” (19. 23).

Summation “…justice exists when the one and supreme God rules his obedient city according

Summation “…justice exists when the one and supreme God rules his obedient city according to his grace” (19. 23): – Soul commands body – Reason commands vices (Aristotelian/Platonic).

Bishop Bossuet Why it is better for a state to be pagan than atheist

Bishop Bossuet Why it is better for a state to be pagan than atheist

Bishop Bossuet, 17 th century • Principles of religion even in pagan states –

Bishop Bossuet, 17 th century • Principles of religion even in pagan states – Athenians “adored [God] unknowingly” (193) – “tradition of divinity and sacrifice” (192) • Certain principles allow for stability of pagan states – E. g. “sanctity of the oath” (193) guarantees treaties, contracts, promises; makes business possible. • Oath “establishes the greatest possible security among men” (194); • Does not have to be sworn by the one true God, but only by the God one recognizes (194).

Question • According to Book II, "true justice does not exist except in that

Question • According to Book II, "true justice does not exist except in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ”; • In Book XIX, "when not serving God, the soul can in no way justly rule the body, or human reason the vices. . . there is not any justice in such a man…. “ • In modern societies, some cities/peoples are grounded in religion while some are not. • Does this mean that some cities/peoples have no true justice? • Do you agree that cities/people should be religious in order to be moral?

Further Questions • What are some examples of modern societies that subscribe to Augustine’s

Further Questions • What are some examples of modern societies that subscribe to Augustine’s views? • Do you agree with Augustine that society should have a moral basis? • Does the moral basis have to be religious in character? • Or could it have another basis?