Politics and Finitude: The Temporal Status of Augustine's Civitas Permixta

M. B. Pranger

in Political Theologies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226443
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237043 | DOI:
Politics and Finitude: The Temporal Status of Augustine's               Civitas Permixta

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In a different reading of Saint Augustine's conception of the saeculum, there is a tradition of medieval political thinking that counterbalances the unstable temporality of the terrestrial civitas with the motif of the corpus mysticum, the mystical body of Christ. This chapter focuses on the temporal dimension of the Augustinian model, thus relating the question of politics to that of “finitude”. It examines the specific ways in which Augustine's The Confessions and The City of God address transience. In both works, the individual self and its voice, as well as the body politic and its institutions, depend for their shaky existence—characterized by personal sin and skepticism concerning communal forms—on the sustenance of their Creator, that is to say, on grace and authority. Out of the shifting movements of the city of God, the city of the devil, the image of the city of God, and the image of the city of the devil—and the possible images of those images—one concrete city emerges, the civitas permixta, which rightly lays claim to being secular, historical, and temporal.

Keywords: Saint Augustine; temporality; civitas permixta; city of God; The Confessions; saeculum; politics; finitude; transience; devil

Chapter.  4609 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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