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Augustine on Peace - Dictionary of Arguments

Höffe I 110
Peace/Augustinus/Höffe: The first great peace theorist of the Occident is Augustine. According to his
Höffe I 111
early works, peace, following the stoic ideal of the wise man, is an inner state of freedom of affect.
Augustine does not give up this understanding later, but he makes three important changes.
1) (...) peace [remains] a guiding interest of man and yet should be unattainable in earthly life. Two factors might be responsible, the paradise lost through original sin and the view of a new paradise in the heavenly Jerusalem: In accordance with the basic character of the God-State the decisive, "true" peace is of eschatological nature.
2) in a clear peak against the "pagan" view that human beings can take care of their own well-being, these secondly depend on divine grace also with regard to peace.
3) Peace should reign not only among men but in the whole cosmos, especially as "peace with God"(1).
Höffe: the otherworldliness of peace, its dependence on an extraterrestrial power and the relativization of the tasks assigned to politics, is attractive because it gives peace a reach and conceptual richness, a superlative rank.
Problem: The eschatological character, however, has the high price of degrading the earthly peace, which man himself is responsible for, to an imperfect image of the only true spiritual peace dependent on divine grace.
Höffe I 112
Earthly peace: The relativization of the peace handed over to man is all the more astonishing because, as mentioned above, the God-state is created against the background of an event of outstanding importance in the history of the state, the capture of Rome. [Augustine] knows earthly peace, but exposes it as the peace of Babylon. Although in earthly life there is nothing more longed for than the good of peace (2), since it promises earthly advantages (3), although man strives for peace by all means (4) and although peace is the natural form of living together (...).
HöffeVsAugustine: Apart from the disdain for genuine political peace practiced here, a deficit is noticeable in a concept so rich in topics: Interstate peace is missing.

1. Augustine, The State of God , De civitate dei XIX, 27
2. Ibid. XIX, 11
3. Ibid. XIX, 17
4. Ibid. XIX, 12

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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