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PHL 408 Augustine, Politics and the Self (3 credits)

Fifteen centuries after his death, Augustine of Hippo (354-430) remains one of the most influential figures in the western philosophical tradition. As a philosopher and rhetorician who later became a Christian bishop, Augustine did a great deal of thinking and writing about social and political questions. What is the place of the individual in society? What does it mean to be a Christian and a citizen? How is politics related to the common good of society? How should we think about issues like justice, war, and peace? This course will examine these themes and others as they appear in two of Augustine’s major works, the Confessions and the City of God, as well as some shorter letters concerned with social and political questions. Coming to understand more fully the historical context of Augustine’s work will be one of the goals of the course, but no prior knowledge of his life and times is required. This course may be taken to satisfy the Philosophical Anthropology requirement of the GEP.