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Title: A Commonwealth of Hope: Virtue, Rhetoric, and Religion in Augustine's Political Thought
Authors: Lamb, Kenneth Michael
Advisors: Lane, Melissa
Macedo, Stephen
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Augustine
Subjects: Political Science
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Augustine of Hippo is one of the most influential thinkers in the history of political thought but one of the most contested in contemporary political theory. Many critics target Augustine's pessimism, arguing that his fixation on sin and longing for the heavenly city deny the value of this-worldly politics. Rather than challenging this pessimism, many defenders parlay it for their own purposes, invoking Augustine to chasten political optimism or encourage religious citizens to withdraw from the public square. <italic>A Commonwealth of Hope</italic> challenges this scholarly consensus by exposing the assumptions that underwrite it. Situating Augustine within his political, rhetorical, and religious contexts and integrating insights from political theory, religious studies, theology, and philosophy, this interdisciplinary dissertation offers the first extended analysis of Augustine's concept of hope. In particular, the study draws on neglected treatises, sermons, and letters to retrieve Augustine's virtue of hope as a kind of mean between vices of presumption and despair, troubling the common dichotomy between optimism and pessimism and highlighting the particular practices needed to cultivate the virtue. By advancing an innovative interpretation of the <italic>City of God</italic> and attending to Augustine's implicit political and pedagogical practices, the dissertation also uncovers resources for reconstructing hope as a distinctly civic virtue, enlisting Augustine to show how diverse citizens - both religious and secular - can share common objects of hope, even as they cast their ultimate hopes on different horizons. By illuminating this understudied virtue and engaging critics on their own terms, <italic>A Commonwealth of Hope</italic> challenges prevailing interpretations of Augustinian pessimism while supplying a novel and capacious vision of Augustine's political thought.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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