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date: 19 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines a number of counter-intuitive suggestions which contest the idea that modernity represents a revolution against top-down, hierarchal schemas of sovereignty previously legitimized by Christianity. The first section reviews the pre- and early modern developments from which modern notions of political sovereignty emerge. The second examines the theological and philosophical development of a view of sovereignty as indivisible in dialogue with the work of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Hegel and their modern reception. It maps the counter-movement in modern theology that critiques indivisible notions of sovereignty by drawing on a Trinitarian doctrine of God and Augustinian and Pauline eschatology. The last section sketches a counter-tradition of thinking about sovereignty as neither indivisible nor in need of dissolution but as inherently distributed through various powers. This countertradition is reflected in the work of Althusius, Otto von Gierke, the English Pluralists, notions of sphere sovereignty, and Catholic Social Teaching, and involves the recovery of an Aristotelian conception of humans as political animals.

Keywords: modernity, Christianity, political sovereignty, Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel, modern theology, Althusius, Otto von Gierke, pluralism

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