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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter endeavors to show that the relevant contrasting term to friend in liberal political theory is not enemy but self. Given the skepticism that suffuses liberal theory, the self remains an endlessly problematic construct that gives us ongoing opportunities for reimagining and reconstructing what the behavior of both friends and enemies is truly like. The chapter examines key terms in the liberal epistemological vocabulary such as skepticism, empiricism, nominalism, and conventionalism to clarify their import for the liberal conceptions of personal identity, friend, and enemy. Throughout, the chapter shows how the Levinasian deployment of the same–other distinction with its devolution upon the concept of infinity offers us a revealing guide to liberal political thought and practice and thereby also constitutes an important implicit critique of Schmitt.

Keywords: same–other, friend–enemy, decisionism, concept of the political, totality and infinity, agnosticism, liberalism, Thomas Hobbes, self, skepticism

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