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|Title:||Two Responses to Utopian Thought: A Comparison of Augustine's and Hobbes's Critiques of Political "Idealism"|
|Advisor:||Seaman, John W.|
|Keywords:||Political Science;Political Science|
|Abstract:||<p>One of the fundamental distinctions between classical political philosophy and the political philosophies of modernity is the attempt by modem philosophers to show that classical thought rests on utopian illusions about man and his relationship to nature. One of the early modern philosophers who played a crucial role in developing a conception of politics that rejects classical thought is Thomas Hobbes. However, in one crucial respect Hobbes builds on a conception of political philosophy as developed by the ancients: he believes that the study of politics as a means to the improvement of the human condition is possible and necessary. This is an assumption that he shares with the majority of modern political philosophers.</p> <p>If modern political philosophy is justified on the basis of its rejection of ancient thought as illusory, and yet shares a crucial assumption of ancient thought, then this raises the question of where to tum in order to gain a critical perspective on the political writings of modernity. One possible answer is the writings of St. Augustine. Augustine's Christian thought cannot be classified as either ancient or modem; it lies somewhere between the two. He is concerned with the development of man's moral virtue, but his conception of virtue and how it is obtained is very different from the ancient understanding of virtue. Moreover, he shares with the modem writers a rejection of the classical conception of reason, but his rejection goes much further. Augustine is skeptical of the idea that human reason can discover natural standards by which we can orient our lives. This differentiates him from modem writers like Thomas Hobbes. Perhaps then, Augustine can offer an alternative to the assumptions of ancient and modem political philosophers. It is my goal in this thesis to explicate this alternative conception of politics through a comparison of the writings of Augustine with the writings of Hobbes. Specifically, I will focus on Augustine's and Hobbes' critiques of political idealism in the City a/God and Leviathan respectively. I aim to show how Augustine's more realistic political analysis offers a formidable challenge to the modem conception of politics as outlined by Hobbes.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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