Towards an ethics of love: Arendt on the will and st Augustine

Philosophy and Social Criticism 26 (6):1-20 (2000)
Abstract
In The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt explores the relationship between thinking, willing and judging. She poses the question of whether these may be among those conditions that prevent a person from doing evil. While many consider her account of thinking and willing (she died before writing the third volume on judging) insufficient for treating this question, I argue that in order fully to understand Arendt's notion of the will, particularly as it relates to our ability to avoid doing evil, one must consider the way in which she attempts to overcome the Augustinian dilemma of how one can love both God and one's neighbor at the same time. Drawing on her Love and Saint Augustine, I seek to show that her 'Augustinian' notion of the will is extremely fruitful for helping us understand what she meant by the two movements of withdrawal from, and activity within, the world. Key Words: Arendt • Augustine • ethics • evil • love • will.
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