The Owl of Minerva 19 (2):183-190 (1988)

Abstract
Carl Schmitt was a jurist, political philosopher, and a devoted student of Thomas Hobbes. Schmitt lived from 1888 to 1985 in Germany, and for a time enjoyed with Martin Heidegger the right to create under Hitler a new spiritual German state. Both men shared enduring veneration, admiring pilgrimages, and remain sources of political and philosophical discussions and interpretation. Recently, three of Schmitt’s books were added to the one already available in English, The Concept of the Political. Most of Schmitt’s books are pamphlets addressing particular subjects, which were important at the time they were written. The interest we have in Schmitt today could not be easily evaluated if we were to turn to his books for historical information. He has written on topics that would interest the constitutional jurist and the political philosopher, but they are not vital books and, if lost, there would be little weeping. We write about Schmitt because we want to show the danger of every political philosophy that claims for its hypothesis scientific data. His theory of humankind is reduced to the problem of evil and his concepts of reality claim that realism, the analysis of what is, is eternally timed and fatefully structured. We read such realists with pleasure because they seem to satisfy our need to see our fellow human beings in the most dismal light. We read them with disdain because we are naturally idealistic and believe that we are condemned to no given condition, and that ideals are not absent from reality, but are the source of its evaluation and the power of its transformation. We read Hobbes and find him perceptive and insightful, for example when he tells us: “I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power that ceaseth only in death”. We seem to find much that is true and valuable. There is much that is absent if we believe that people and communities have always believed that reason and the reasonable force them to find differences between the good and the evil, between the truth and the lie, between the just and the unjust. The deepest difference lies between the philosopher of reason, or the speculative philosopher, and the political thinker who refuses to draw a distinction between what exists and what should exist, i.e., the thinker who absolutizes the given and values only what is suitable to it.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI owl19881924
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