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Keywords:

  • Phenomenology;
  • Augustine;
  • Gift;
  • World

Abstract

While there is a tradition in western religious thought of “contemptus mundi”–hating the world–there is also a tradition of loving the world. Figures as diverse as Augustine, Nietzsche, and Freud have queried whether and how we can love the world: how we can enjoy it for its value. Whereas Nietzsche and Freud thought that a Christian theistic framework prevented us from loving the world, a close reading of Augustine's Confessions shows that this is not true, at least in one sense. For Augustine, this article tries to show, theorizes how it is precisely within a Christian theistic framework that we can love the world most deeply and take the most delight in the world. This vision of Augustine's is not without its own challenges, but it offers at the least a significant “response” to claims by those like Nietzsche and Freud who believe that Christian theism and loving the world are irreconcilable.