978-0-262-69124-6 / 9780262691246

Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)


Publisher:The MIT Press



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About the book:

"Sovereign is he who decides on the exception." So begins Political Theology, the book that, marked Carl Schmitt as one of the most significant political and legal theoreticians of the 20th century.

Writing amid the intense political and intellectual ferment of the early Weimar Republic, Schmitt argued that the essence of sovereignty ties in the absolute authority to decide when the normal conditions presupposed by the legal authority exist. Because the norms of a legal system cannot govern a state of emergency, they cannot determine when such an exceptional state holds, or what should be done to resolve it. Thus every legal order ultimately rests not upon norms, but rather on the decisions of the sovereign.

Schmitt underpins this analysis of sovereignty with a "political theology" that claims that all the important concepts of modern political thought are secularized theological concepts; he concludes with an attack on liberalism and its attempt to depoliticize political thought, by avoiding fundamental moral and political decisions.

Political Theology is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.

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