Rawls and Schmitt are often discussed in the literature as if their conceptions of the political had nothing in common, or even referred to entirely different phenomena. In this essay, I show how these conceptions share a common space of reasons, traceable back to the idea of public reason and its development since the Middle Ages. By analysing the idea of public reason in Rawls and in Schmitt, as well as its relation to their theories of political representation, I show (...) in what way Schmitt's concept of the political cannot be divorced from an idea of justice, while, conversely, Rawls ' conception of justice cannot be divorced from a theory of the political. In that way this paper thematizes the internal relation that each theory establishes between justice and power, deliberation and decision, and consensus and disagreement. (shrink)
This essay reconstructs Agamben’s theory of bare life as an example of an affirmative biopolitics, a politics of life that lies beyond sovereignty. The essay shows that his account of bare life constitutes a reworking of four central motifs found in Marx’s historical materialism: the facticity of alienated existence, the fetishism of commodities, the profanity of bourgeois society, and the nihilism of revolution. Agamben’s renewal of historical materialism explicitly turns on an innovative and controversial synthesis of Benjamin and Heidegger. This (...) essay argues that such a synthesis relies, implicitly, on the negative dialectics developed by Adorno. If correct, this interpretation suggests a way of understanding Agamben’s political thought as a particularly radical and consequent continuation of the project of critical theory. (shrink)
Rawls and Schmitt are often discussed in the literature as if their conceptions of the political had nothing in common, or even referred to entirely different phenomena. In this essay, I show how these conceptions share a common space of reasons, traceable back to the idea of public reason and its development since the Middle Ages. By analysing the idea of public reason in Rawls and in Schmitt, as well as its relation to their theories of political representation, I show (...) in what way Schmitt's concept of the political cannot be divorced from an idea of justice, while, conversely, Rawls' conception of justice cannot be divorced from a theory of the political. In that way this paper thematizes the internal relation that each theory establishes between justice and power, deliberation and decision, and consensus and disagreement. (shrink)
This essay offers an interpretation of Kant's republicanism in light of the problem of political judgment. Kant is sometimes thought to base his conception of law on an idea of sovereignty drawn from Hobbes and Rousseau, which would leave little room for popular contestation of the state. In this essay, I reconstruct Kant's account of the rule of law by bringing out the importance of his theory of judgment. I argue that for Kant the civil condition is ultimately characterized by (...) a contest between the judgment of the sovereign and the judgment of the people, which corresponds to the determinative and reflective employments of political judgment, respectively. On this view, popular sovereignty is ultimately located in the people 's power to judge politically and contest publicly the state. (shrink)
Cacciari, academic and mayor of Venice as of 1993, surveys the history of angels in Judaic, Islamic, and Christian traditions; and how Dante, Rilke, Kafka, and other writers have used the metaphor of angels to speak about the phenomenology of language. Translated from the.
After 1977 Althusser’s thought took an important « turn » away front Marxism-Leninism. The posthumously published writings from his late period constitute an extremely rich theoretical resource for post-Marxist thought. In them one can find a decisive refutation of the errors of Marxism-Leninism, which Althusser believes have two roots: the denigration and misunderstanding of the autonomy of the political, on the one hand, and the reliance on a metaphysical construction of historical becoming, on the other. In order to find the (...) proper horizon to understand the political in its autonomous, or constituent, dimension Althusser finds it necessary to return to Machiavelli. In order to escape the grip of modern philosophy of history, and its obsession with a subject of history, Althusser offers a sketch of a theory of history that gives priority to the dimension of the event, of the contingent encounter, which evacuates all substance and all subject from historical becoming. The necessity of politics and the contingency of history: these are the two requirements for recovering Marx « after Marxism ». (shrink)
When political rationality deployed itself on the terrain of the biological life of the human species with the purpose of making this life healthier, more capable, and more "worthy of being lived," it also postulated that some life could be potentiated only at the price of killing off other life. Foucault therefore introduces the idea of biopolitics together with that of thanatopolitics (1990, 137) .Since Foucault, one of the urgent questions has been how biopolitics turns into a thanatopolitics and under (...) what conditions can this turn be prevented or reversed into an affirmative politics of life. In this article I offer a reading of Benjamin's project that leads from thanatopolitics to an affirmative biopolitics. .. (shrink)
Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss are undoubtedly two of the most influential and radical conservative critics of liberalism of our century. Their work takes aim at the heart of liberalism: it questions the consistency of liberalism’s theologico-political ground, namely, the separation of church and state. They take exception to the neutrality of the liberal state with respect to matters of faith on the ground that such neutrality betrays a lack of absolute moral commitments and places liberalism in a chronic crisis (...) of legitimacy. Schmitt advances his critique of liberalism from the standpoint of political theology. This discourse claims that the political state is authoritative in virtue of its capacity to equate the individual decision of whether or not to obey unconditionally a given legal order with the absolute decision between good and evil, to which the individual has access only through religious faith. Whether the standpoint of Strauss’s critique falls within the purview of political theology is one of the questions that will be discussed in this review. More importantly, their respective critiques of liberalism raise the topical question of the nature of the relation between liberalism and politico-religious fundamentalism. (shrink)
The multi-volume Political Philosophy is an ambitious attempt by Luc Ferry to re-establish the possibility of a normative theory of politics after the demise of the metaphysical politics associated with the various grand narratives of modernity. Polemically oriented against the “anti-humanism” of post-modernity, Ferry’s political philosophy delineates a new strategy for the Enlightenment project of universal emancipation by developing a “non-metaphysical humanism” that draws heavily on the thought of Kant and Fichte.
This article discusses the relation between Judaism and political theology in the work of Hermann Cohen and Franz Rosenzweig. Both Cohen and Rosenzweig give an interpretation of Judaism that prioritizes the messianic ideal while maintaining the priority of philosophy over religion. With respect to political theology, this article argues that Cohen and Rosenzweig criticize the priority assigned to the national state in modern politics in favour of a politics that is both cosmopolitan and republican, in so far as it makes (...) the internal relation between peoplehood and rule of law central, and detaches the rule of law from sovereignty. In this sense, the messianism of Cohen and Rosenzweig is opposed to Christian conceptions of the messianic recovered in recent contemporary political theory. The article concludes with a discussion of Rosenzweig’s hypothesis concerning how the antagonism between these two forms of messianism are to be reconciled in a new understanding of natural right. (shrink)
This response discusses the possibility of an affirmative biopolitics based on a materialist and atheist idea of eternal life in light of some of the challenges raised by the critiques of Morejón, Ricciardi, and Fenves. The first challenge concerns whether an affirmative biopolitics is at all possible given that biopolitics contains as an immanent possibility a racial politics that leads to a “necropolitics”. The second challenge concerns the political character of Italian theory, especially in Agamben, and its relation to communism (...) and republicanism. The third challenge concerns the applicability of recent cosmological speculations for the purpose of joining messianism and historical materialism in Benjamin’s thought. (shrink)
This article discusses the question of how Arendt’s mature “neo-Roman” republican political theory relates to her early. It argues that her early reflections on the problem of Jewish politics in modernity already adopt one of the main pillars of her later republican political theory, i.e., the substitution of federalism for sovereignty. The article puts forth the hypothesis that Arendt’s republicanism takes up the idea that Romans and Jews, during their republican periods, both held a “civil” conception of religion. Arendt’s conception (...) of civil religion is analyzed in light of her readings of Virgil. The article concludes that Arendt’s mature political thought is neither “non-religious” nor contains a “political theology” but that it does put forward a civil-religious interpretation of natality and plurality. (shrink)
In Vita della mente e tempo della polis, Simona Forti gives the most convincing account to date of Hannah Arendt's unique path into “post-metaphysical thinking” and shows why it remains one of the most radical “thought-experiments” of this century. Forti's approach to Arendt's thought is centered on the problem of the relation between philosophy and politics, theoria and praxis. Her main thesis is that Arendt identifies the fundamental motivation that is operative in metaphysics as the “occlusion” and “removal” of the (...) originary phenomenon of politics, and thereby also the finitude, multiplicity, and temporality of the “human condition” that is constitutively bound to politics. Forti claims that by the re-memoration of such an “originary” understanding of politics, Arendt is able to deconstruct the tradition of metaphysics in a more radical fashion than Heidegger. Conversely, this “originary” or “authentic” politics, because it stands as the “other” of the whole apparatus of metaphysics, remains immune to a totalizing theorization of its domain, and this in two ways: no “system” of politics is possible, and the role played by theory in political action itself undergoes a thorough revaluation. This theoretical fragility of authentic praxis is precisely what does not permit, at the practical level, its stabilization and foundation. Hence the “tragic” fracture between praxis and theoria, their impossible reconciliation, that in turn becomes the proper matter of “thinking” after metaphysics. A “thinking” which is problematized by Forti through the analysis of the question of judgment in Arendt, whereby a new modality of the “life of the mind” is disclosed, one that lies beyond the very dualism of philosophy and politics. (shrink)
Since its inception, liberalism has thought of itself as being at sear with « war ». It has understood « war » as the greatest threat to a civil society whose essential end is the autonomy of individuals. Liberalism identifies two main sources of «war»: the first is orthodoxy, the second is democracy. Yet in modernity it is not unusual to find repeated alliances between these two, indicating perhaps that the « war » against which liberalism fights is not as (...) such anti-political, but rather expresses an understanding of politics as war. The formula « politics is war » is central to the thought of two important critics of liberalism who are not usually treated together: Michel Foucault and Carl Schmitt. In this essay I shall use them to bring out two aporias, concerning the presuppositions of-the rule of law and of individualism, that the liberal understanding of politics constantly encounters, and that require a rethinking of both democracy and orthodoxy. (shrink)
Pierre Kerszberg’s Critique and Totality is one of the boldest and most intriguing phenomenological readings of the Kantian critical project to date. The gambit of the book is that phenomenology can unlock the authentic sense of Kantian critique only on the condition that it, in turn, does not lose sight of the critical standpoint. The book is an invitation to consider phenomenology and idealism as compatible and mutually enabling doctrines, while it also lays bare, indirectly, the tensions between them. Since (...) the current alternatives to analytical philosophy of language draw mostly from one or both of these doctrines, this book offers an important contribution to the debate on the origins and trajectories of contemporary continental philosophy out of the Kantian revolution. (shrink)
Hasta ahora gran parte de la literatura crítica sobre la cuestión de la religión en Maquiavelo ha limitado su atención a las religiones romana y cristiana, sin haber considerado la recepción italiana y florentina de otros monoteísmos no cristianos, la filosofía política medieval árabe y judía, o el nuevo platonismo que fuera introducido en la Italia renacentista por la llamada «diáspora» de los filósofos bizantinos. Una vez que se tienen en cuenta todos estos elementos se hace muy difícil no reconocer (...) que la cultura florentina que albergó a Ficino, Pico, Savonarola y Maquiavelo se vio profundamente influenciada, como analizamos en el presente trabajo, tanto por la recepción de lo que se conoce como «teología antigua» como también por la «profetología» árabe y judía, especialmente en la obra de Alfarabi. En el presente texto sostengo por tanto que el análisis de la estrecha relación entre la «teología antigua» y la «profetología» que tuvo lugar en Florencia décadas antes de que Maquiavelo compusiera su obra nos permite comprender mejor la concepción maquiaveliana de la religión civil, que estaría fuertemente condicionada por una interpretación de la república romana desde la perspectiva de la república hebrea y la profecía mosaica. (shrink)