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Atheism, Post-secularism and the Legitimacy of Democracy

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Atheism, Post-secularism and the Legitimacy of Democracy

Professor Miguel Vatter (Deakin)

Abstract

This paper starts from Carl Schmitt’s claim in Political Theology that during the 19th century the metaphysical worldview at the basis of state theory took a turn towards radical immanence, to which corresponds the new legitimacy of democracy. However, in this book and in his subsequent writings, Schmitt was never able or willing to articulate a political theology of democracy based on immanence. Rather, he argued for the legitimacy of dictatorship as the only way to maintain an openness towards transcendence. In this paper I suggest that such a political theology of democracy based on radical immanence may have first been articulated by Ernst Bloch in relation to a discourse on messianism. Bloch’s insights, I argue, were later picked up by Habermas and Derrida in their turns towards postsecularism. The paper intends to show in what sense these last two thinkers, towards the end of their careers, converged on the project of articulating a new political theology of democracy.

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Organiser Deakin University Faculty of Arts and Education

Organiser of Deakin Philosophy Seminar Series

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