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True Justice According to St. Augustine

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Essay title: True Justice According to St. Augustine

True justice according to St. Augustine

Augustine lived during the fall of the Roman Empire and had a Roman education. As can be concluded from the title, Augustine was a Christian, but not for whole his life. He got baptized after a period of personal drama, caused by a personal intellectual and spiritual journey. After his baptism, he lived as a priest in Hippo, North Africa. In this period, he wrote a vast amount of literature about mostly theological subjects. Therefore, Augustine is more a theologian than a philosopher like Plato and Aristotle. His most important work is The City of God, which he wrote after the sack of Rome in 410. He describes in this book that there are two kinds of people: members of the Earthly City and members of the City of God. The members of the Earthly City love their selves and the world is their home. The members of the City of God truly love God. For them, their life on earth is only a pilgrimage towards the heavenly City of God. And only in the heavenly City of God, true justice can be achieved.

The earthly society exists of members of both cities, who are bound together by a common love for peace and not by a common definition of justice, what was the view of Cicero. This peace is a compromise between the members of the different group and is not true peace, because for true peace, perfect tranquillity and order in society is necessary. This is not possible due to the fact that humans cannot know the motives of other humans, so political leaders couldn't think for their subjects. The only way to create order is thus by using force. Using force against other humans is a sin. The earthly law is a substitute for the divine eternal law and in this function, it is just for the legislator to use force (sins) against sinners, as long as the aim of the sin is to correct and restrain the wickedness of the sinful human being.

Because perfect hierarchy can only be achieved in the heavenly City of God, the hierarchy in the Earthly city is disrupted. But because "justice is that virtue which to each give his due" , the members of both cities are not supposed to do something about this. The reason that there is, for example, slavery, is sin. Without sin, there would be no slavery, but the sins of mankind made laws necessary. If no human violated the law, there would be no slaves, because the punishment would not be needed. Slavery is thus a result of the law and in that way just. Besides, you can better slave a man than slave than slave a lust, as the master of a slave does. In the same way is every victory just, because it is a divine judgment. Even when the morally incorrect party wins:

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