Using Augustine as a conversation partner, this important new book explores the value of Michel Foucault’s controversial writings for theologians, ethicists, philosophers, and cultural theorists. J. Joyce Schuld demonstrates the promising possibilities as well as the difficulties and limits of applying Foucault’s social criticisms within Christian contexts. She maintains that the best way to make Foucault’s postmodern concerns and his unsettling descriptions, metaphors, and methods accessible to Christian readers is to examine his thought through a premodern lens.
By bringing Foucault and Augustine into constructive dialogue, Schuld reveals the surprising analytical usefulness of Augustine’s writings for postmodern and poststructuralist studies. She pursues from a new and critically illuminating perspective the personal, cultural, and historical ramifications of Augustine’s formative understanding of love and the complicated effects of original sin on all inter- and intrapersonal relations. Schuld argues that Foucault’s dynamic and relational description of power helps us reconceptualize an ancient doctrine that has lost currency in the modern era and challenges us to rethink the vulnerabilities to which human loves endlessly expose us as individuals and engaged members of sociohistorical communities. This approach facilitates further theological examination of the intertwining personal and political implications of pride, the morally ambiguous aspirations for progress and perfecting knowledge, and the paradoxical power of the incarnation, the cross, and eschatological hope.
Schuld’s is the first sustained analysis of the rich theological possibilities of employing Foucault’s most influential concepts and methods, historical research, and contemporary cultural criticisms. Foucault and Augustine: Reconsidering Power and Love will appeal to those who already use Foucault constructively and to those who have either never read him or who are familiar with his writings but have never considered them valuable for Christians.
"I hope Schuld's book is widely read by those interested in Augustine and Foucault, and by many others." -- Theology Today " Foucault and Augustine: Reconsidering Power and Love is a fine book. It offers insights-from Augustine and Foucault, but also from Schuld-of the first importance, not only for scholarship but also for life. It is clearly and beautifully written, and its convincing demonstration that sympathetic and critical readings can be accomplished simultaneously represents the very best of religious studies scholarship." -- Journal of the American Academy of Religion ". . . Schuld brings together these two creative minds and allows them to illuminate from a number of different angles our contemporary situation. Anyone struggling with the challenges of post-modernism will find this a fertile resource." -- Contact "This is a daring and illuminating book . . . clear and deeply intelligent from beginning to end. Schuld not only offers reasons for theologians to take Foucault seriously, she also liberates Augustine from readings driven by modern presuppositions rather than by the logic of his own writing . . . to put Foucault and Augustine into dialogue is a great intellectual achievement that testifies to the suppleness of their writings." -- Theological Studies "With this thought-provoking and impressive study, J. Joyce Schuld makes an innovative contribution to the growing body of literature exploring the significance of the thought of Michel Foucault for Christian theology and the broader study of religion . . . this study is highly recommended for its creative and insightful elaboration of a new and unexpected space of dialogue and for its challenge to the preconceptions and categorizations that can all too readily circumscribe ethical and religious thinking." -- Foucault Studies "When Schuld brings Augustine into Foucault's postmodernism, her aim is less to theologize Foucault than to deliver Augustine from his modern animus. If Augustine can survive (with Foucault's help) his modern reading, then that is good news for much of Christian theology. . . . a good resource for theologically invested students of postmodernism. . . . " -- The Journal of Religion "_Foucault and Augustine_ is an important book, an original contribution at once to the literature on Augustine and on Foucault, and to current debates about postmodern Christian thought." -- American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly