A Heretical Political Theology: Carl Schmitt and the Hobbesian Concept of Representation

By Ionut Untea.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes elaborates on the sole basis of Scripture an original theory of representation. He uses it in his interpretation of the Trinity and in his political argumentation. However, even today’s scholars (Quentin Skinner for example) believe that there is an ambiguity concerning the application of Hobbesian theology of the representative person to the role of the state. Trying to understand this last problem, Carl Schmitt used another theology. For him the ideal of the State is the Roman Catholic Church. Believing that Hobbes described the sovereign as merely an actor on a stage, he proposed instead another content for this political representation, through the model of two main Catholic dogmas: the infallibility of the pope and the Eucharist. As the pope represents God, because he is infallible, the Sovereign must represent the ‘people’: he (or she) always knows what the people want. This is why he emphasizes the unity of the people and its substantial homogeneity. The substantial homogeneity becomes in Carl Schmitt’s view the argument for sustaining that a democracy must be opposed to the liberal ideas of universal liberty and equality.

Keywords: Carl Schmitt, Thomas Hobbes, Representation, Political Theology, Artificial Person, Homogeneity, Anti-liberalism, Leviathan, Sovereignty

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 12, pp.93-100. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 566.563KB).

Ionut Untea

Graduate Research Student, Master 2 Recherche Histoire de la Philosophie, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Bucharest, France

I became interested in political theory, especially Hobbes in 2005 when I started research for my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy, my second Bachelor of Arts, after the one in Theology, at the University of Bucharest, Romania. I have also attended the courses of Doctrine and Culture Master in Theology in Bucharest, Histoire de la Philosophie Master at the Lyon III University, and of Post-Graduate Programs at l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris and University of Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle. My research so far begins to take the shape of concrete results such as articles published in Romania, France and UK, participation in international conferences, and fruitful dialogue with internationally recognized scholars of Hobbes’s political theology (Eldon J. Eisenach, Luc Foisneau, Franck Lessay, Pierre Manent). Concerning my recent activity in International Conferences I can mention my participation in American Politics Group Annual Conference (Oxford, 2009), Europe before the European Community, 1918-1957, Images and Ideas (London, 2008), Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism (Lyon, 2008), Bucharest-Princeton Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, (Bran, 2007).

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