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To Carl Schmitt: Letters and Reflections

Jacob Taubes; Translated by Keith Tribe and with an introduction by Mike Grimshaw

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May, 2013
Cloth, 120 pages,
ISBN: 978-0-231-15412-3
$18.50 / £13.00

A philosopher, rabbi, religious historian, and Gnostic, Jacob Taubes was for many years a correspondent and interlocutor of Carl Schmitt (1888–1985), a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist, law professor—and self-professed Nazi. Despite their unlikely association, Taubes and Schmitt shared an abiding interest in the fundamental problems of political theology, believing the great challenges of modern political theory were ancient in pedigree and, in many cases, anticipated the works of Judeo-Christian eschatologists.

In this collection of Taubes’s writings on Schmitt, the two intellectuals work through ideas of the apocalypse and other central concepts of political theology. Taubes acknowledges Schmitt’s reservations about the weakness of liberal democracy yet distances himself from his prescription to rectify it, arguing the apocalyptic worldview requires less of a rigid hierarchical social ordering than a community committed to the importance of decision making. In these writings, a sharper and more nuanced portrait of Schmitt’s thought emerges, as well as a more complicated understanding of Taubes, who has shaped the work of Giorgio Agamben, Peter Sloterdijk, and other major twentieth-century theorists.

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About the Author

Jacob Taubes (1923–1987) was professor of Jewish studies and hermeneutics at the Free University of Berlin. His books include From Cult to Culture: Fragments Toward a Critique of Historical Reason; Occidental Eschatology; and The Political Theology of Paul. Keith Tribe is an independent scholar and the author of Strategies of Economic Order: German Economics, 1750–1950. He is also the translator of works by Reinhart Koselleck and Wilhelm Hennis. Mike Grimshaw is associate professor in sociology at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

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