The concept of Love in Augustine of Hippona

24 Oct

Hanna Arendt’s thesis was a milestone in her philosophical development, from a foundational aspect, it is the first of her works and marks an involvement with Heidegger, her first advisor with whom she became emotionally involved, and Karl Jaspers, who influenced the choice of the theme.

The work can be divided into three thematic axes: love for others, or life in society, love in the relationship between man and God the creator and love as desire, called appetitus.

The author also states that the bishop never completely excluded the philosophical ideas of antiquity, notably Cicero, Plato and Plotinus in his thinking, and no matter how faithful and Christian he became, “he never completely lost the impulse to question philosophical.” (ARENDT, 1996, p. 3).

The first part of the author’s dissertation called “Love as desire: the anticipated future”, within a philosophical perspective and in continuity with Hellenic thought, could not have a better title, since it is not love in the present, but “ anticipated future”, something that one hopes to have as a means of achieving happiness.

This love called cupiditas is shaped by a “desirous desire, that is, appetitus”, but caritas also has this aspect of “future” desire, but it is a free love.

Augustine asks in Confessions: “What do I love when I love my God?” (Confessions own essence, finally finds eternal love in his own Being.

Love for others, or social love, was developed by the author: man must love his neighbor as God’s creation: […] man loves the world as God’s creation: “in the world the creature loves the world as how God loves. This is the realization of a self-denial in which everyone, including yourself, simultaneously reclaims your God-given importance. This fulfillment is love for others.” (ARENDT, 1996, p. 93)

Augustine differentiates the polis from the city of God, the name of another of his works, and clarifies Arendt: “This defense is the foundation of the new city, the city of God. […] This new social life, which is based on Christ, is defined by mutual love (diligire invicem)” (ARENDT, 1996, p. 108).

Thus, Augustine’s work is philosophical, theological and political, although this aspect is ignored.

ARENDT, Hannah. Love and Saint Augustine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.




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