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The Problem of Political Foundations in Carl Schmitt and Emmanuel Levinas, Hardback Book

The Problem of Political Foundations in Carl Schmitt and Emmanuel Levinas Hardback


In this book, Gavin Rae analyses the foundationsof political life by undertaking a critical comparative analysis of thepolitical theologies of Carl Schmitt and Emmanuel Levinas.

In so doing, Raecontributes to key debates in contemporary political philosophy, specifically thoserelating to the nature of, and the relationship between, the theological, thepolitical, and the ethical, as well as those questioning the existence ofahistoric metaphysical, ontological, and epistemological foundations.

While thetheological is often associated with belief in a fixed foundation such as Godor the truth of a religion, Rae identifies another sense rooted inepistemology.

On this understanding, the ontological limitations of humancognition mean that, ultimately, human truth is based in faith and so can neverbe certain.

The argument developed suggests that Levinas' conception of thepolitical is grounded in theology in the sense of religion, particularly therevelations of Judaism.

For this reason, Levinas claims that the politicaldecision is based on how to implement a prior religiously-inspired norm:justice.

Schmitt, in contrast, develops a conception of the political rooted inepistemic faith to claim that the political decision is normless.

Whilesympathetic to Schmitt's conception of theology and its relationship to thepolitical, Rae concludes by arguing that the emphasis Levinas places onresponsibility is crucial to understanding the implications of this.

Thecontinuing relevance of Schmitt's and Levinas' political theologies is thatthey teach us that, while the political decision is ultimately normless, webear an infinite responsibility for the consequences of this normless decision.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 270 pages, XX, 270 p.
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social & political philosophy
  • ISBN: 9781137591678

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