The Concept of the Theological-Political

Term: Fall 2012

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6084

Carl Schmitt stated that all major political concepts are secularizations of theological notions. One of Claude Lefort's major articles is entitled "The Permanence of the Theologico-Political?" This course focuses on the notion of the Theological-Political. Drawing from the works of Ernest Kantorowicz, Quentin Skinner, and Remy Brague, it begins with the pre-modern Europe where one finds the direct grounding of political legitimacy on theological doctrines. Next, drawing on the works of the social contract theorists, particularly that of Hobbes, we consider that uncoupling of this direct relationship. Then we deal with the theorists of secularization and their critics, including among others Karl Lowith and Hans Blumenberg. After this, we study the new articulation of the political-theological in the 20th century in the form of political messianism (with and without a messiah) in the works of Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida and others. A different notion of the relationship between the political and the theological is considered in the philosophy of Claude Lefort. The course concludes with a reflection on the debate concerning the relationship between religion and politics in the United States today.

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