Love and Saint Augustine: The Abstracted Neighbor

  • Marilyn LaFay
Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)


This chapter examines Arendt’s dissertation, Love and St. Augustine. The dissertation is an important addition to the Arendtian oeuvre for it “grounds her political thought and provides the existential context for her phenomenology of public life.”1 My focus in this chapter is to draw out the themes of “care for the world” and “love for the neighbor” that emerge in the dissertation and that act as binding agents in Arendt’s thought. Examination of the dissertation shows these themes as politically problematic, however, for both “care for the world” and “love of the neighbor,” as Arendt develops them here, rely on an abstraction into the future. And in this we find the dissonance that runs throughout Arendt’s work: she wants to impose upon people a type of similarity—a similarity of futurity—which may be all well and good philosophically speaking, but is highly suspect, if not outrageous when brought into the political realm.


Political Life Political Thought Mutual Love Neighborly Love Abstracted Quality 
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© Marilyn LaFay 2014

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  • Marilyn LaFay

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