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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes the systematic relationship of Carl Schmitt’s oeuvre to rhetoric, arguing that his work cannot be detached from its engagement in a simultaneously metaphysical and historical polemic. The encounter between history and metaphysics manifests in the dimension of the commonplace. Schmitt’s contributions to political theory can be understood as attempts to shift the commonplaces through which his time defines itself. Tracing the influence of Schmitt’s early literary criticism on his legal writing, the chapter demonstrates that for him, literature is a school of rhetoric, an exemplary dimension in more than one sense: it is a normative, ethical, and stylistic authority. While Schmitt’s books are contributions to specific legal, political, and critical discourse, they also claim to contribute to the great and urgent concerns of a community. This dimension inherits the genus grande and places his oeuvre at the limits of rhetoric.

Keywords: Carl Schmitt, rhetoric, literature, topos, authority, advocacy, political thought

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