Augustine’s Analysis of <em>Amor Laudis:</em> A Case Study of the Supreme Drive in Roman Political Life

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Lu Chao


Augustine's attitude towards Rome is highly complex and ambivalent, leading to a further controversy over whether he acknowledges any neutral political realm at all. Inspired by William Desmond's discussions of different ethical ways, my article will offer a new answer to this controversy by carrying out a dialectic analysis of the supreme drive in Roman political life, i.e. amor laudis. On the one hand, both the positive and the negative sides of amor laudis will be discussed in a systematic way, which will demonstrate its ambiguous relation to morality and politics. On the other hand, a logical movement will be reconstructed from within amor laudis to show how its positive side dramatically turns negative and how this supreme drive in Roman politics dialectically becomes libido dominandi. Through this case study of amor laudis, my article will attempt to prove that Augustine's overall judgment of Rome is essentially negative, and this negative judgment reveals his diagnosis of the intrinsic evil in all pagan virtues and earthly politics, of which Rome was their preeminent representative.

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