Truth and Politics: A Theological Comparison of Joseph Ratzinger and John Milbank
Joseph Ratzinger and the Anglican scholar John Milbank have written extensively on the social and political order from a theological perspective. The main aspect which distinguishes Ratzinger's theology of politics from Milbank's political theology is how each theologian orients his thought on the question of truth, and most specifically how each theologian understands and relocates Vico's claim that verum est factum (the truth is made). While Ratzinger is critical of Vico's account of the socially constructed nature of truth, Milbank, on the other hand, embraces Vico in a way which validates it. The political consequences which logically follow these two philosophical approaches to Vico illustrate a central difference between Ratzinger and Milbank. As a result of these differing responses to Vico on truth, the dissertation argues that Ratzinger and Milbank take up different ways of relating socialism to the Trinitarian faith. Ratzinger's critical appreciation of socialism, but rejection of all political models as expressive of Trinitarian faith, and Milbank's promotion of socialism as integral to Trinitarian faith in practice are rooted in their reactions to Vico. In demonstrating these differences this study will show how their approaches to truth shape their philosophical and theological approaches to politics.
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