The Enemy within: Schmitt’s Key Ideas as Failures of Plato’s Statesman

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The strong thesis of this essay is that evolution in Carl Schmitt’s thinking, reflected in the differences between such works as the Nomos of the Earth and the much earlier Political Theology, for example, succeeds in this way—it solidifies Schmitt’s reliance on the exceptional power of the sovereign. In his final recourse to Plato, Schmitt finds, although he does not acknowledge this discovery, the justification for his earlier work on the transformation of the divine power into sovereign power as the source of the supreme political power. The weaker thesis that we hope this paper successfully defends is that whatever differences there are in Schmitt’s earlier and later thinking about sovereign power and its role in politics, these are not sufficient to clear him of charges of misinterpreting Plato and the consequent failure of the ideas that Schmitt grounds in Plato’s political thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-166
Number of pages11
JournalPerspectives on Political Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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