The Common Good in Late Medieval Political Thought: Moral Goodness and Material Benefit

Hardcover | April 1, 1999

byM. S. Kempshall

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This study offers a major reinterpretation of medieval political thought by examining one of its most fundamental ideas. If it was axiomatic that the goal of human society should be the common good, then this notion presented at least two conceptual alternatives. Did it embody the highestmoral ideals of happiness and the life of virtue, or did it represent the more pragmatic benefits of peace and material security? Political thinkers from Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham answered this question in various contexts. In theoretical terms, they were reacting to the rediscovery ofAristotle's Politics and Ethics, an event often seen as pivotal in the history of political thought. On a practical level, they were faced with pressing concerns over the exercise of both temporal and ecclesiastical authority - resistance to royal taxation and opposition to the jurisdiction of thepope. In establishing the connections between these different contexts, The Common Good questions the identification of Aristotle as the primary catalyst for the emergence of 'the individual' and a 'secular' theory of the state. Through a detailed exposition of scholastic political theology, itargues that the roots of any such developments should be traced, instead, to Augustine and the Bible.

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This study offers a major reinterpretation of medieval political thought by examining one of its most fundamental ideas. If it was axiomatic that the goal of human society should be the common good, then this notion presented at least two conceptual alternatives. Did it embody the highestmoral ideals of happiness and the life of virtue...

M. S. Kempshall is a Lecturer in Medieval History at Balliol College and St Catherine's College, University of Oxford.

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Format:HardcoverPublished:April 1, 1999Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198207166

ISBN - 13:9780198207160

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Table of Contents

Albertus Magnus: Aristotle and the Common GoodAlbertus Magnus: Common Good and Common BenefitThomas Aquinas: Metaphysics and HierarchyThomas Aquinas: Love, Justice, and VirtueThe Life of Virtue: Giles of Rome's De Regimine PrincipumHenry of Ghent: Self-Love and InclusionHenry of Ghent: Authority, Obedience, and ResistanceGodfrey of Fontaines: Love, Justice, and VirtueGodfrey of Fontaines: Authority, Obedience, and ResistanceThe Life of Virtue: Giles of Rome, James of Viterbo, and John of ParisRemigio dei Girolami: The Order of LoveRemigio dei Girolami: Peace and OrderConclusionBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`So extensive and intimate is his understanding of the thought of late medieval Europe and so authoritative is his handlig of the texts that we are compelled to see the issues through the eyes of those who debated them... It is... fascinating for it brings to the reader's attention figuresfrom the late Middle Ages who, perhaps, have not yet received the recognition they might have deserved.'Brian Horne, Journal of Theological Studies, Vol.51 No.1