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date: 04 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shows why Carl Schmitt’s philosophical theories retained their fascination and conceptual force for young intellectuals in postwar Germany. Publication of a letter Walter Benjamin had written to Schmitt in 1930, which revealed his esteem for Schmitt, was a catalyst for philosophers such as Jacob Taubes, who had distanced himself from Schmitt. Taubes’s research into the two men’s relationship helped to overcome the postwar construction of a clear-cut distinction between good and bad, shedding new light on the work of both philosophers and the intellectual atmosphere of the Weimar period. Benjamin’s and Schmitt’s works convey a strong mutual influence, especially throughout the 1930s, implicitly revealed in Benjamin’s appropriation of Schmitt’s concept of the “state of exception.” The appeal of Schmitt’s theory for Benjamin lay in its suggestive force about the roles of aesthetics and avant-garde.

Keywords: Carl Schmitt, Jacob Taubes, Walter Benjamin, Thomas Hobbes, political iconography of time, katechon, state of exception, avant-garde, Weimar, postwar German philosophy

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