The first half of our treatment on Ullmann can be found here, and the prelude to this two-part series can be found here (and the forerunner to the prelude [!] is here); in the six-now-seven (a through e; part 2a here, part 2b here, part 2c here, part 2d here, and part 2e1 here) parts of this second post, we’ll cover the way that his students, admirers and critics have presented the outline of his thought, and the faults they have found with it.
Continuing with Excerpt #17, which treats of Plato’s narration of Socrates’ philosophical path, and Excerpt #18, where we see Aristotle narrating the philosophical development (and position) of Socrates and Plato, here we get the Roman Stoic Marcus Tullius Cicero (B.C. 106-43) on Socrates through Aristotle.
We have earlier summarized what is perhaps the best book in English on Augustine’s politics (may this excerpt illuminate what is found there, and vice versa), began a summary of Book 19 of his City of God (part one here; pingbacks at the bottom for all other current and future parts), and offered an excerpt of Peter Brown writing about Augustine’s understanding of the Libido Dominandi; here I offer one excellent quote to summarize Augustine’s political vision. Continue reading
We use the word “Republic” for a number of things in modern American English — to designate a kind of political system (i.e., a Republican form of government), to designate a U.S. political party (vi&, the Republican Party) — we even use it in our collective mythologies to positively describe fictional periods of bliss (e.g., Star Wars, where the good Republic gives way to the evil Empire).
The English word comes from two Latin words: Res publica. It might be rendered into English as “a thing of (or belonging to) the people”, but even with this clunky phrase, the meaning of the Latin “does not translate easily”.  Continue reading
Two important features of all modern polities are (1) an emphasis on proper procedure and (2) a systematic ensurance of popular consent. Contrary to common expectation, these do not come directly from ancient Greece, leapfrogging into the present, nor do they spring ex nihilo from later Enlightenment conceptions of political life. Rather, they first take on their later forms by way of Late Antique and Medieval monastic and ecclesiastical environments. While we should not wish to make history tidier than it is –the lines of influence are messy ones– this particular line is significant enough that, even if it is later joined by other tributaries, it deserves to be singled out.
In this set of posts we shall look at a trajectory from roughly Benedict of Nursia to Marsilius of Padua, looking over our shoulder, later on, at Aristotle and Cicero. At the end, we shall ask some questions about the meaning of the secular, secularism, and secularity, as illuminated by this history.
In the previous entry, we looked at the Rule of Benedict. Here, we look at the lead-up to a crucial stage in the secularization (i.e., an exportation into the saeculum) of features of the Rule in the writings and life of Gregory I, Roman Pope, also known as Gregory the Great, or (less fortunately) as Gregory the Dialogist.