Secularization, History, and Political Theology: The Hans Blumenberg and Carl Schmitt Debate

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
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Considering the enormous outpouring of scholarly work on Schmitt over the last two decades, the absence of an adequate treatment in English of Schmitt’s concept of history and the problem of secularization is quite surprising. After all, it is Schmitt himself who claims that “all human beings who plan and attempt to unite the masses behind their plans engage in some form of philosophy of history,” such that the attempt to make sense of Schmitt’s program remains incomplete without a serious treatment of his philosophy of history. This article is an attempt to address this problem by means of his exchange with Hans Blumenberg who, more than any other critic of Schmitt, was privy to the political intentions behind Schmitt’s metaphorical use of theology. While their discussion is extensive and wide-ranging, I focus here on their diverging philosophies of history, precisely that aspect that is most relevant to gaining a more expansive understanding of Schmitt’s arguments, and indeed the relationship between political thought and historical thought.

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