Loving the Many in the One: Augustine and the Love of Finite Goods
AbstractThis is an essay in comparative ethics within the Platonist tradition. Although the primary focus is on Augustine’s account of rightly ordered love of neighbor in De vera religione, it analyzes Augustine’s account of the love of finite goods by comparing it with Plato’s grounding of the love of imperfect creatures within an ontological hierarchy in Symposium. Against the backdrop of the critique by modern readers that neither thinker’s teleological and hierarchical view of love allows for a real love of particular individuals, this essay will show how for Plato and Augustine alike, the love of the One—the Beautiful, for Plato, and God, for Augustine—conditions all other loves. Augustine’s ontological hierarchy of the one eternal God and the many created goods leads him to insist that the love of God, who alone is loved for his own sake, conditions the Christian’s love of neighbors whom she loves not for their own sake but for God’s. The Platonic ontology of Augustine’s theodicy, it will be argued, allows him to explain how use-love is a genuine expression of love for the neighbor in her particularity and yet remains subordinated to one’s highest love of God. View Full-Text
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Smith, J.W. Loving the Many in the One: Augustine and the Love of Finite Goods. Religions 2016, 7, 137.
Smith JW. Loving the Many in the One: Augustine and the Love of Finite Goods. Religions. 2016; 7(11):137.Chicago/Turabian Style
Smith, J. W. 2016. "Loving the Many in the One: Augustine and the Love of Finite Goods." Religions 7, no. 11: 137.
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