Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
From where do political reformers and radicals come who are willing and prepared to challenge the status quo? Where are people formed who are capable of initiating change within a political system? Some worry belief in transcendence closes off authentic political engagement and processes of transformation. Others think that a transcendent orientation is the only means to protect and promote a more free and just society. Some see a positive commitment to transcendence as inimical to democratic practices, while others see such a commitment as indispensible for such a project. These general issues concern transcendence, immanence, and subjectivity as they bear on the question of political transformation. Explaining the differences between these fundamental orientations prompts an investigation of the philosophical and theological systems of Hegel and Augustine. Examining Hegel and Augustine around the issues of transcendence and freedom offers a way to understand these more localized disagreements between political philosophers and theologians, and even between theologians. This dissertation examines Hegel, because after the recent demise of Kantian liberalism in the forms of Rawls and Habermas, many are returning to Hegel as the original critic of Kantian philosophy specifically, and of Enlightenment secularism generally. This return to Hegel has produced a larger amount of research that dislodges the easily caricaturized Hegel of dialectical monism and political conservativism, creating the possibility of a more positive deployment of Hegel within philosophy and politics. Concerning Augustine, in one sense his theology is perennial for theology, whether accepted or rejected. But in addition to this, just as with Hegel many are beginning to question the received Augustine, mining his texts within his own cultural and theological milieu rather than merely as the beginning of supposedly unfavorable theological developments. The time is ripe for an engagement between these two stalwarts of theology and philosophy in order to illuminate the similarities and differences and make clear their contemporary relevancy. This dissertations will argue that Hegel best represents a philosophy of ‘selftranscending immanence’ that promotes freedom by standing in opposition to transcendence, and that Augustine best respresents a theology of ‘self-immanenting transcendence’ as the only possible hope for the true freedom.