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Written in the intense political and intellectual tumult of the early years of the Weimar Republic, Political Theology develops the distinctive theory of sovereignty that made Carl Schmitt one of the most significant and controversial political theorists of the twentieth century. Focusing on the relationships among political leadership, the norms of the legal order, and the state of political emergency, Schmitt argues in Political Theology that legal order ultimately rests upon the decisions of the sovereign. According to Schmitt, only the sovereign can meet the needs of an "exceptional" time and transcend legal order so that order can then be reestablished. Convinced that the state is governed by the ever-present possibility of conflict, Schmitt theorizes that the state exists only to maintain its integrity in order to ensure order and stability. Suggesting that all concepts of modern political thought are secularized theological concepts, Schmitt concludes Political Theology with a critique of liberalism and its attempt to depoliticize political thought by avoiding fundamental political decisions.
In this strikingly original work, Paul W. Kahn rethinks the meaning of political theology. In a text innovative in both form and substance, he describes an American political theology as a secular inquiry into ultimate meanings sustaining our faith in the popular sovereign. Kahn works out his view through an engagement with Carl Schmitt's 1922 classic, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. He forces an engagement with Schmitt's four chapters, offering a new version of each that is responsive to the American political imaginary. The result is a contemporary political theology. As in Schmitt's work, sovereignty remains central, yet Kahn shows how popular sovereignty creates an ethos of sacrifice in the modern state. Turning to law, Kahn demonstrates how the line between exception and judicial decision is not as sharp as Schmitt led us to believe. He reminds readers that American political life begins with the revolutionary willingness to sacrifice and that both sacrifice and law continue to ground the American political imagination. Kahn offers a political theology that has at its center the practice of freedom realized in political decisions, legal judgments, and finally in philosophical inquiry itself.
"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 Theologyis included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.
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In the 1960s, the strict opposition between the religious and the secular began to break down, blurring the distinction between political philosophy and political theology. This collapse contributed to the decline of modern liberalism, which supported a neutral, value-free space for capitalism. It also deeply unsettled political, religious, and philosophical realms, forced to confront the conceptual stakes of a return to religion. Gamely intervening in a contest that defies simple resolutions, Clayton Crockett conceives of the postmodern convergence of the secular and the religious as a basis for emancipatory political thought. Engaging themes of sovereignty, democracy, potentiality, law, and event from a religious and political point of view, Crockett articulates a theological vision that responds to our contemporary world and its theo-political realities. Specifically, he claims we should think about God and the state in terms of potentiality rather than sovereign power. Deploying new concepts, such as Slavoj i ek's idea of parallax and Catherine Malabou's notion of plasticity, his argument engages with debates over the nature and status of religion, ideology, and messianism. Tangling with the work of Derrida, Deleuze, Spinoza, Antonio Negri, Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, John D. Caputo, and Catherine Keller, Crockett concludes with a reconsideration of democracy as a form of political thought and religious practice, underscoring its ties to modern liberal capitalism while also envisioning a more authentic democracy unconstrained by those ties.

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