To Augustine: I love you, I love you not

Lately I’ve been doing an exam question on the topic of love of self (amor sui) in the thought of Augustine of Hippo.  Over the past few years, I have begun thinking about the legitimacy and importance of love of self as a specific ethical task, obviously as distinguished and distanced from selfishness and/or narcissism, and obviously as connected to love of God and love of neighbor. Even more strongly, in a way such that it chastens and promotes authentic community.  Anyway, to be more accurate, this is probably something I have wondered about my entire life, for various personal reasons.  This topic actually doesn’t stem only from my reflections about myself, but rather, from witnessing people whom I know and love throughout my entire life struggling against self-hatred and searching for a sense of self-worth.  (Okay, I’m just trying to prevent the from-the-hip accusation that I’m laboring, clandestinely, to get selfishness and modern, autonomous, individualistic self-determinism in through the back door. I’m not.) Continue reading