Political Manichaeism and progressivism : a study of Augustinian and Millian freedom

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Strathdee, Johnathan A.W.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Political Science
This thesis compares John Stuart Mill and Saint Augustine and their handling of Manichaeism. This comparison reveals how each philosopher understands human freedom and its relationship to politics. Mill, a progressive, thought Manichaeism motivated the individual to take initiative and overcome “evil.” However, conformity occurs as society progresses and the smallest of differences between citizens are exaggerated. Society begins to take up arms against obstacles to progress. This problem is seen in progressive movements of the 20th century, like Marxism and the residential schools, and modern day identity politics. Conversely, Augustine understood that the problem of politics is human nature. Evil is not an irredeemable externality but a corruption of a created good. Augustine believed that human beings are unable to “will” themselves towards the eternal good, resulting in a divided will. Augustine understood that the problem of progressivism was an oversimplified understanding of freedom.
evil , human freedom , human will , Manichaeism , politics