Morteza's Reviews > Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty

Political Theology by Carl Schmitt
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Nov 17, 2011

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Read from November 17 to December 03, 2011

Schwab correctly calls Schmitt; The Hobbes of the 20th century.
In this book Schmitt tries to define his concept of the political sovereignty. He believes that first of all we need to define the 'exception' -not the norm- to grasp the meaning of this concept. "sovereign is he who decides on the exception." (p.5) All laws are 'situational laws.' Because in the case of emergency there exist no law. "There is no norm that is applicable to chaos." (p. 13) At the end of the day, this is the sovereign who decides the right thing to do in the chaos. Then the sovereign is outside of all laws and he is who "produces and guarantees the situation in its totality."

But how this happened and modern sovereign became the omnipotent law-giver? Schmitt suggests that this was the motto of 18th century rationalism: "imitate the immutable decrees of the divinity." Rousseau's 'sovereign', Cartesian 'prince' and Hobbes' 'Leviathan' are referring to the sovereign as an omnipotent law-giver- or the earthly God. The conclusion is mentioned in the first lines of the 3rd chapter:
"All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts (p.36)." The political sovereign is the secular God of the 17th and 18th century and all of the philosophical theories of history are secular versions of the Christian salvation story- this is the echo of Scmitt's catchword that we can hear from Karl Lowith in his worthy book; "Meaning in History."
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