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Augustine on State (Polity) - Dictionary of Arguments

Höffe I 107
State/Augustine/Höffe: Political philosophy is replaced by political theology.
Höffe I 108
Real/Ideal State/Augustine: In contrast to Plato's ideal, the philosopher-king, which the Muslim thinker al-Fārābī, will show, will change into a religious philosopher's rule, Augustine's ideal does not guarantee a just state. The real state cannot even become an imperfect reflection of the ideal. A ruler who loves God, a ruler as a "true Christian", at best prevents the blatant greed and extreme violence of pagan states, thus reducing given grievances.
Democracy: The earthly-political activity of humans is degraded in any case. The commitment for better conditions in this world is not blameworthy, but it is irrelevant, at best of little importance.
Two-realm doctrine/Augustine: Only the exact opposite of the earthly, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the care for one's own salvation directed towards it are regarded as truly legitimate.
In this doctrine of the two kingdoms with the separation of the cosmos into good and evil spirits, into angels and (devilish) demons, fed by biblical approaches and Manichaean thinking and eloquently represented in the Revelation of John, Augustine uses the term Babylon to denote "the association of godless angels and men"(1), but with Jerusalem the association of those chosen by God.
Höffe I 113
According to the cause and the history of its effects, Augustine's concept of the state is of outstanding importance. In Book IV, Chapter 4, the famous(2) pirate anecdote taken over from Cicero culminates in the provision formulated as a question: "What are kingdoms, if they lack justice, but great robber bands?" (remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latronica?)
Höffe I 114
Höffe: If [this] is meant categorically (...), then justice is inevitably lacking, and states are nothing more than crime syndicates. Against the categorical understanding speaks Augustine's call to follow the apostle Paul(3) and "pray for the kings and authorities of Babylon" (4). This invitation would be incomprehensible if it denied the earthly state all legitimacy, and therefore political justice.
AugustineVsAntique/Article: [this definition of the state can already be found in Aristotle]: the definition of the state as a community of benefit and above all of right and wrong. But there are two differences.
a) On the one hand, Augustine is concerned with a booty to be distributed, alluding to the warlike expansion, the Roman Empire; Cicero, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the internal organisation of a community.
b) On the other hand it remains unclear whether Augustine understands justice in the political sense of just rules and offices or in the personal sense of righteous rulers.
Höffe I 117
The doctrine of the two kingdoms: Already in the investiture controversy (around 1075) on the question of who would lead the rulers into office, the emperor or the French and English kings, the political scope of Augustine's doctrine of the two kingdoms was hotly debated.

1. Augustine, The State of God, De civitate dei XVIII, 18
2.Cicero, De re publica, III 24
3. First letter to Timothy 2,2
4. The State of God, XIX, 26

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2022-01-21
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