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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the fate of Carl Schmitt’s concept of the political in twentieth-century European thought. It starts with the main outlines of his founding text The Concept of the Political, with emphasis on conceptual ambiguities in Schmitt’s argumentation that others would identify and exploit. It then turns to a recent debate about which young German Jew—Hans Morgenthau or Leo Strauss—most influenced the revisions Schmitt made to his text between editions, concluding that the role of both has been overstated. The balance of the chapter reconstructs an alternative—and in some ways opposed—French tradition of conceptualizing the political with roots in the thought of Raymond Aron. Culminating in Claude Lefort, this tradition decentered the role of enmity that Schmitt wanted to define the political, a point dramatized in conclusion with discussion of international relations theory and how the French tradition conceived of warfare and strife.

Keywords: Carl Schmitt, Raymond Aron, Leo Strauss, Claude Lefort, Hans Morgenthau, the political, war, enmity

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