Teachers and Influences: An Intellectual Autobiography

I am sometimes asked who has influenced my thinking: “Who are among the biggest influences in your intellectual outlook”? This was a common question at Yale and remains a question I receive here in England as I work with Roger Scruton. Evidently that should giveaway an influence on me. I suppose there are different influences … Continue reading Teachers and Influences: An Intellectual Autobiography

Are we all Augustinians? A Review of William Connolly’s “The Augustinian Imperative”

William Connolly is one of the great contemporary scholars in Augustinian engagement—that is, he constantly contests, utilizes, or criticizes the philosophy and theology of Saint Augustine in formation of his own work, themes, or beliefs. In The Augustinian Imperative, Connolly engages Augustine in relationship to modern politics. Although Connolly could be seen as an Augustinian … Continue reading Are we all Augustinians? A Review of William Connolly’s “The Augustinian Imperative”

Augustine’s City of God, XIII: Finale, The “Image of the Trinity”

Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek, and many other continental psychoanalysts have paid homage to the bishop of Hippo for his insight into the human psyche. Indeed, even Sigmund Freud’s triad psyche of the superego, ego, and id is owed directly to Augustine’s tripartite man: memory (superego), intellect (ego), and will (id). More recently David Brooks has … Continue reading Augustine’s City of God, XIII: Finale, The “Image of the Trinity”

Augustine’s City of God, XII: Understanding the “Saeculum”

Another one of Augustine’s great themes that rides through the City of God is the concept of the saeculum.[i] It has been brought to attention of late by scholars like R.A. Markus and historians like Peter Brown, James Wetzel, and Peter Leithart. What is the saeculum, and why is it important to Augustine’s understanding of … Continue reading Augustine’s City of God, XII: Understanding the “Saeculum”

Augustine’s City of God, XI: Understanding the Libido Dominandi

The libido domanandi is a Latin term that can be roughly translated as “lust for domination.” The lust for domination is, for Augustine, the driving impulse of fallen man and his society (the city of man). The twentieth century philosopher Eric Voegelin surmised that the libido dominandi was man’s “will to power” to borrow a phrase … Continue reading Augustine’s City of God, XI: Understanding the Libido Dominandi

Augustine’s City of God, X: Understanding Augustine’s “Dialectic”

Augustine is sometimes seen as the father of dialectical philosophy and theology in the Christian tradition. While there is already an inkling of dialectical thought throughout the Bible, and the New Testament letters—especially Paul—it is Augustine’s City of God that begins the most robust effort at understanding this so-called dialectic of light and darkness, sin … Continue reading Augustine’s City of God, X: Understanding Augustine’s “Dialectic”

Augustine’s City of God, IX: Understanding Augustine’s Hermeneutic

Part of Augustine’s ecclesiological hermeneutic which is developed more fully in the City of God is already a well-established hermeneutic in the early church: The Christological, Ecclesiological, and Spiritual reading of Scripture. However, Augustine provides the first arguable systematic account of this ecclesiological-allegorical hermeneutical lens especially from within the confines of covenant theology. While there … Continue reading Augustine’s City of God, IX: Understanding Augustine’s Hermeneutic

Augustine’s City of God, VII: The City of Man

The second half of City of God (Books XI through XXII) deal with the origins and ends of the two cities.  Here Augustine shifts from his cultural criticism to a more exegetical, historical, and political focus.  Augustine begins to develop his allegorical hermeneutic of the church in these chapters, reflects on human history as contained … Continue reading Augustine’s City of God, VII: The City of Man

Augustine’s City of God, VI: The Fall of Man

The City of God represents the fullest maturation of Augustine’s thoughts concerning Original Sin and the Fall of Man. Sin and the Fall are concepts so disparate now in the state of contemporary Christianity largely due to ignorance of tradition, confessions, doctrines, and patristic sources. Augustine’s reading of the Fall is not necessarily unique, St. … Continue reading Augustine’s City of God, VI: The Fall of Man