Thomas Aquinas VS Saint Augustine

god politic philosophy

Saint Augustine: politics as City of God (theocracy)

What is the majeur change brought by St. Augustine‘s political thought since to the revelation? Simple answer is: Introducing God as the foundation of politics, as its foreground.

The Start of onto-theology of Augustine is: men are equal, but created by God as subjects.

Augustine distinguished two kingdoms of men and God, the temporal and spiritual power. The temporal power, because it is based on natural law, which part of inequality physical men, is imperfect. The temporal power must submit to the spiritual power, and just perfect. The State, with Augustine, must be the guarantor of divine order, serve the interests of the Church (which refutes Ockham William of St Augustine)

The aim of the policy will therefore constitute a “papal theocracy,” that is to say, the affirmation of universal domination, in terms of time as the spiritual, the supremacy of the popes princes, emperors or presidents

So what about democracy?

The political autonomy of men is an illusion, men must rely on God. It is this reason that justifies the theocracy: God no, men living in community can not spread, according to Augustine, that injustice.

Augustine operates a total reversal in the origin of power. While for the Greek Aristotle and Plato derived power from rationality, the power in Augustine takes its source in God’s creation. And despite their equality, men are placed in a position of heteronomy. We spend an immanent order in which men are masters of their political destiny, to a transcendent order, dominated by God.

Thus, if Augustine is not really the issue of better diet, its onto-theology tells us about its position that democracy can only be an unjust regime without legitimacy.


Thomas Aquinas (or St. Thomas): the politico-religious syncretism (religious monarchy)

Thomism has probably influenced more history than the Augustinian. He is an authority in all religious backgrounds.

To answer the question of the ideal regime in Thomas Aquinas, the answer to the question: what is good?

Thomas Aquinas puts his thoughts in a multiple context. He knows all the works of Greek and will try all his life to reconcile the achievements of Greek philosophy (especially Aristotle) ​​and Divine Revelation.

Thomas Aquinas takes Aristotle‘s idea that communities are natural, that is to say, fulfill a need, that of mutual protection. From there, Thomas Aquinas distinguished four kinds of rules:

– The right divine, inaccessible to human reason

– Natural law accessible to human reason

– The divine positive law, that of the Church

– Human positive law, established by men

Of course, the divine law is the objective. But as it is unintelligible, that the Church, through the divine positive law, access to people and their laws (human positive law), to make them conform to natural law.

Which must embody the natural law? According to Thomas Aquinas, only a monarch can benefit from the divine legitimacy. God would provide the Prince of sovereignty, would in time so that the trustee brings people to the natural law. This hypothesis also justify all the monarchies of the Middle Ages.

Well, therefore, is to respect the natural order established by God

So the concept of democracy, after appearing very early, is clearly declining in the Middle Ages. Political thinkers of the post revelation of God are the source of legitimacy and power and purpose: political communities that exist by and for God.

We will wait the 18th for a modern and democratic political philosophy to makes its appearance.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Thomas Aquinas VS Saint Augustine, May 14, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 14, 2012,

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