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The Concept of the Political: Expanded Edition Paperback – 15 May 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Expanded edition edition (15 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226738922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226738925
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"The best introduction to Schmitt's thought."

" The best introduction to Schmitt' s thought." -- Mark Lilla, "New York"" Review of Books"


" Contains much of what is fundamental in Schmitt' s understanding of the political nature of man and the state, including his contentious definition of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy. . . . Its scholarship is unquestionable." -- Joseph W. Bendersky, "Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory"


"The best introduction to Schmitt's thought." -- Mark Lilla "New York Review of Books"

Contains much of what is fundamental in Schmitts understanding of the political nature of man and the state, including his contentious definition of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy. . . . Its scholarship is unquestionable.Joseph W. Bendersky, Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory -- Joseph W. Bendersky "Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory"

The best introduction to Schmitts thought.Mark Lilla, New York Review of Books -- Mark Lilla "New York Review of Books"

"The best introduction to Schmitt's thought."--Mark Lilla, "New York"" Review of Books"
--Mark Lilla "New York Review of Books "

"The best introduction to Schmitt's thought."

--Mark Lilla "New York Review of Books "

"The best introduction to Schmitt's thought."
--Mark Lilla "New York Review of Books "

Contains much of what is fundamental in Schmitt s understanding of the political nature of man and the state, including his contentious definition of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy. . . . Its scholarship is unquestionable.
--Joseph W. Bendersky "Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory ""

The best introduction to Schmitt s thought.
--Mark Lilla "New York Review of Books ""

"Contains much of what is fundamental in Schmitt's understanding of the political nature of man and the state, including his contentious definition of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy. . . . Its scholarship is unquestionable."
--Joseph W. Bendersky "Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory "

"The best introduction to Schmitt's thought."
--Mark Lilla "New York Review of Books "

About the Author

Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) was a legal and political theorist and constitutional lawyer. He was the author of many books, including Political Theology, which the University of Chicago Press recently reprinted.

 


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Format: Paperback
Paired with Political Theology, this forms the best introduction to the political and legal thought of Carl Schmitt. The included essay on neutralisation and depoliticisation also makes a fundamental contribution to understanding his critique of liberalism and the liberal state (along with trickier concepts like "humanity").

If you're new to Schmitt, forget the Nazism of his Hitler period (not *completely* of course, but don't allow it to pre-colour your views), and get a copy of this; you might be surprised, even if you're a leftist like me, how much you sympathise with his analysis.
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A very interesting essay by Schmitt, widely considered to be his most influential work. The language is clearly dated, and the translation is a bit odd in parts (particularly regarding how Schmitt's noted are just incorporated into the text rather than footnoted). However, it is a good book and key to understanding the development of 20th century political thought in general and totalitarianism in particular.
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By A Customer on 18 Jun. 1998
Format: Paperback
Schmitt's "Concept of the Political" is one of the most famous as well as notorious books of political theory. The so-called "Crown-Attorney of the Third Reich" (Gurian) develops in this brief Essay the idea, that the Concept of the Political is the differentiation between foe and friend. States should classify people as well as other states as friend or foe, because only this asures homogenity (in innerstate matters) and security (in foreign policies). Allthough this radical alternative has often been misunderstood (Schmitt does not say, that politics always operates in this binary mode), Schmitt is fascinated by the ideology of Mussolini as well as Hitler and the NSdAP. Vice versa, the Nazis showed interests in the international lawyer: His homogenity-desiderate corresponded with their plans to exterminate "Jews". With Schmitts "Concept of the Political" these extermination-ideas were based to a "philosophical background". That led critical scholars to characterize this book as a "political, not philosophical existentialism".
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 22 reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The return of the repressed (irrationality) 2 July 2012
By greg taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book but one that must be read with the greatest of care. This is so for various reasons. As some of the other reviewers have pointed out, Schmitt's book is full of words whose meaning has changed, e.g., liberalism and democracy. Secondly, Schmitt is a slippery writer. O heck, there are times when he writes deceptively. Thirdly, Schmitt assumes a lot without argument.
Finally, there is the evidence of his own life (he entered the Nazi Party within several months of publishing the 1933 edition of his book and never publicly expressed any regret about his involvement with that regime.) In that sense, we can state that his own life provides a sort of worst-case demonstration as to where his thinking leads.

I want to outline what I think Schmitt is doing in this book. Along the way I will illustrate my points above. I will then offer a few suggestions as to why Schmitt remains an attractive and useful read (the two qualities are distinct).

Schmitt's first theoretical enemy is the use of rationality in the political (more on that usage in a moment). He is opposed to any attempt to transcend the individual state, to work toward a politics that embraces all of humanity.
His concept of the political is an odd one. It comes into being on a sliding scale, a political exemplar of Hegel's dictum that changes in quantity eventually become changes in quality. At some point, a dispute begins to enter the political. It can be a religious, a moral or an economic dispute. But at some point, according to Schmitt, it starts to get existential, it starts to be perceived as an issue about a way of life. At that point, it becomes political and leaves behind the religious, the moral, etc. At it's most extreme, it leads to war and possibly the annihilation of one's way of life.
This idea is just chock full of assumptions asserted by definition. The separation of the political and the other modes of being is a case in point. Consider this quote:
"The distinction of friend and enemy...can exist theoretically and practically, without having simultaneously to draw upon all these moral, aesthetic, economic, or other distinctions" p.27.
This is also a good example of the sneaky writing I mentioned. Notice that fact that all he is saying is that the political can exist without all of them simultaneously. He says nothing about the political being able to exist without some or any of them. The distinction between the political and the other modes of being is not clear cut as he wants to make out.
So the political seems to be nothing more than the intensification of disagreement in other modes of being. Schmitt wants us to believe otherwise but, to my reading, he does not succeed.

Schmitt's other great enemy is individualism. Schmitt believes that a consistent individualism is the negation of the political. This consistency is expressed in the (classical)liberal definition of the state as a minimalist state dedicated to the purpose "of protecting individual freedom and private property" p.70. (The discussion on these pages exemplify what I mean by his historically specific usages of words like liberalism and democracy).
So what is being argued for by Schmitt is a dissolving the the line between the private and the public sphere in the state. He sees the political as based on a people, a Volk, who have a traditional way of life that need on occasion to be defended. That way of life is what justifies ultimately that state's sovereignty. The ultimate expression of that sovereignty is the expectation that the individual will sacrifice his/her life for that state if need be.
Given that reading (especially when combined with Schmitt's well-documented antisemitism), it is easy to see how he could turn to the Nazi party as a means to achieve his idea of politics.

So why read the guy? For a variety of reasons. He exemplifies one of the weaknesses of liberalism/rationalism which is that together they are corrosive of all of the larger than life visions of the human good be those visions religious or political. It seems to me that Western political philosophy is fixated on the idea of (Augustine's)"things loved in common",i.e., on a shared sense of what is the just, the true, the noble and the beautiful as the foundation of a political society, of a state. For centuries, we had a sense of that in one or the other form of Christianity but we have outgrown that. Many of those on the left were seduced by the romanticism of one or the other form of Marxism. There are many on the left today that are trying to create a new ontology to meet that need or are turning back to Christianity in order to look for tools to create that shared sense of a way of life.
Those on the right try to reimpose Christianity in one form or another(Schmitt himself turned to Catholicism,I believe) or Islam or, in some cases, they indulge themselves in a conservative post-modernism.
Me, I prefer the road that I find suggested in the writings of Claude Lefort. I prefer to believe that that a shared sense of life is a work in practice, never completed, that largely relies on rational criticism but also on faith and reliance in the democratic masses in all their glorious otherness. Schmitt, like Hobbes, like Marx, is a tool set full of insights into the difficulties of the task and of the material (recalcitrant Humanity) but he is no guide. But then there are no guides. There is simply the work that we have to do of getting on with each other.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Schmitt is not easy reading but as one of the main voices of ... 8 Nov. 2014
By R. Bowman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Schmitt is not easy reading but as one of the main voices of the Conservative Revolution it is well worth your time. In his terminology the political isn't the recurring charade that passes for politics in a liberal democracy. I may be overstating it somewhat but for Schmitt the political is war. For the political there is no compromise with the enemy, no common ground, and no surrender. Areas in which a compromise is possible aren't of deep enough importance to be political. When it comes down to friend or enemy there is no neutral middle ground.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exactly as described 5 Jan. 2015
By Anthony - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book in great shape. Exactly as described
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 18 Oct. 2015
By Brian Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice exploration and development.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars definitely not a favorite of mine 7 Sept. 2014
By victoriao1205 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very deep and sometimes dry content. I purchased this for a college course and while it was insightful, definitely not a favorite of mine.
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