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Arendt, Augustine, and the New Beginning: The Action Theory and Moral Thought of Hannah Arendt in the Light of Her Dissertation on St. Augustine [Paperback]

By Stephan Kampowski (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   384
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 5.9" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2008
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802827241  
EAN  9780802827241  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Political theorist Hannah Arendt's earliest writing was a dissertation on Saint Augustine's concept of neighborly love. Kampowski explores the relevance of that material to Arendt's lifetime of work; examines Scott and Stark's edition of that student thesis; and analyzes Arendt's mature theories of action and ethics in relationship to her introductory work. A valuable panorama.

Publishers Description
A splendid piece of scholarship on a major twentieth-century thinker often overlooked. / This book presents an original scholarly analysis of the work of political theorist Hannah Arendt, focusing on an area hitherto ignored: the ways in which Augustines thought forms the foundation of Arendt's work. Stephan Kampowski here offers readers a valuable overview of central aspects of Arendts thought, addressing perennial existential and philosophical questions at the heart of every human being.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Great Detective Work and a Fine Introduction  Apr 1, 2010
It is hard to write a review on a book filled with so many good things, but this volume merits some encouraging comments despite the difficulties of easy encapsulation. Kampowski's book is a great introduction to both St. Augustine and Hannah Arendt's philosophy. It is also a primer for action theory and Christian ethics drawn from the Church's patristic tradition, and could provide the reader with many intellectual and historical insights as well as material for more personal reflection and spiritual growth. Certainly, a book to recommend.

Kampowski's book is largely a companion volume to the work by Joanna Vecchialrelli Scott and Judith Chelius Stark entitled Love and Saint Augustine, and I would encourage reading both books together. While Kampowski's attitude to Scott and Stark is respectful, he questions whether they have proven the life long and pervading influence of Augustine's thinking on Arendt's philosophy. His book is offered as a corrective to what he sees lacking in Scott and Stark. Kampowski's book does a fine bit of detective work on the book's publishing history and Arendt's efforts to edit late in her life the dissertation from her youth. He continues to trace Augustinian themes in her later works including the incomplete The Life of the Mind (Combined 2 Volumes in 1) (Vols 1&2) and The Human Condition (2nd Edition). Overall, I think Kampowski does a fine job making his point, and in the process, gives the reader a fine overview of Arendt's action theory leaving little doubt that Augustine shadowed Arendt throughout her career.

Kampowski makes an early reference to the Catholic philosopher Maurice Blondel, whose tome Action (1893: Essay on a Critique of Life and a Science of Practice should be on every educated Catholic's reading list, to help structure his book, though certainly he could have used more of him. Blondel's division of rational activity into intuitive and ontological direction and discursive praxis weave their way throughout Kampowski's analysis at every turn, but Kampowski seems reluctant to incorporate Blondel directly into the text or to use his insights to bolster his analysis. It is possible that such incorporation would have lead him away from his focus, and the omission justified for editorial reasons, but it left a lingering disappointment for me throughout my reading. Kampowski's book seems to suggest that Arendt's action theory is of a more discursive and moralistic variety; the book is heavily weighted to the temporal context. Blondel, at least as I see him, essentially sees action as an activity of spirit beyond mind and will, and while Arendt's thinking is not antithetical to the intuitive and mystical, the majority of Kampowski's work suggests a favoring on her part toward the pragmatic. Because Arendt wrote in the era of Nazism and holocaust, and Blondel within the more intellectual atmosphere of German Idealism, may have something to do with this. I wish Kampowski would have been more clear on this point. Volition as the locus for "new beginning," and a "natality" that draws from sempiternal truth should have been explored here. Is his accounting an adequate reflection of Arendt's action theory? Is there a certain sacrifice of the mystical to deal with the issues of how men treat each other? Kampowski does deal with the theme of "love of God and neighbor" and the relationship between them ( it is actually a very good part of the book), but I am left pondering Arendt's Blondelianism.

Despite this criticism, the book is filled with much good, especially if your thinking falls more into the volitionist perspective of Christian thought than the intellectual world usually driven by Thomism. It gets to the heart of many questions and issues relevant today.
Inspiring  Feb 1, 2010
Rigorous and scholarly research and approach. Thorough knowledge of st. Auqustine, too. I warmly recommend it!
Great Introduction to the Thought of Hannah Arendt  Mar 7, 2009
In a world that seems to be governed by the law of causality, is action, understood as free initiative, possible at all? What sense can we make of the mystery of evil, particularly as it was manifested in the times of the totalitarian regimes in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia? How was it possible for people to commit outrageous crimes with an ease that is truly disconcerting? These were among the central questions raised by Hannah Arendt, one of the most intriguing political philosophers of the last century. This present book, which relates her mature work to her juvenile doctorate, actually holds much more than the title is promising. The author invites the reader to marvel, together with Hannah Arendt, at the wonderful human capacity of the new and unexpected. It is a great introduction to Arendt's ideas, making great reading also for people not yet familiar with her thought. The book is scholarly and well-researched. At the same time it is quite approachable even for non-academics.

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