Fear, technology, and the state: Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, and the revival of Hobbes in weimar and national socialist germany

Political Theory 22 (4):619-652 (1994)
Abstract
It is striking that one of the most consequential representatives of [the] abstract scientific orientation of the seventeenth century [Thomas Hobbes] became so personalistic. This is because as a juristic thinker he wanted to grasp the reality of societal life just as much as he, as a philosopher and a natural scientist, wanted to grasp the reality of nature.... [J]uristic thought in those days had not yet become so overpowered by the natural sciences that he, in the intensity of his scientific approach, should unsuspectingly have overlooked the specific reality of legal life. Carl Schmitt, Political Theology (1922)In the light of Hobbes's natural science, man and his works become a mere phantasmagoria. Through Hobbes's natural science, “the native hue” of his political science “is sicklied o'er with the pale cast” of something which is reminiscent of death but utterly lacks the majesty of death—of something which foreshadows the positivism of our day. It seems then that if we want to do justice to the life which vibrates in Hobbes's political teaching, we must understand that teaching by itself, and not in the light of his natural science. Can this be done?² Leo Strauss, “On the Basis ofHobbes's Political Philosophy” (1959)
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