Paul W. Kahn’s Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty is a compelling book, though compelling in a sense not unlike an intellectual bruise one is drawn to press on again and again. Ostensibly a re-purposing of Carl Schmitt’s 1922 Political Theology, Kahn’s book possesses a more ambitious armature than his title and the format of following Schmitt’s chapter scheme might suggest. Kahn is a legal scholar by training, and interested here in the problem of sovereignty, which takes him deep into questions of law, jurisprudence, constitutional reasoning, and forms of political organization. It is no less notable, however, that Kahn’s project weighs in on four classic philosophical and political problems . . . .Read the rest of Paul Kahn’s roots.
Nancy Levene is a member of the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. She works on root concepts that structure the humanities, including history, modernity, religion, reason, the West, the global, and on discourses within the social sciences that, even if originating in the West, aim to be cross-cultural, if not also pan-human, mapping the West’s limits and schisms. She is the author of articles in European thought and criticism, Jewish thought, and the study of religion, and of two books: Spinoza’s Revelation: Religion, Democracy, and Reason (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and Powers of Distinction: Modernity, Religion, History (under review 2016). Her current research is on the end of metaphysics in light of Christianity, Judaism, and secularism.
Posts by Nancy Levene:
Each contributor [to Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age] delivers a reading of Taylor’s work, helping to evaluate its significance, critical flaws, and lingering questions. They are companion pieces, then, and work best with a knowledge of the book. Their strength as a whole lies in the seriousness with which they address Taylor’s grand narrative and the sprightliness with which they point puzzled readers to related topics and avenues. Does Taylor’s book deserve such scrupulous attention? I am inclined to weight this question from the opposite side. Some of the essays in Varieties are so thought-provoking that I feel grateful to Taylor for having occasioned them, even if his own book is rather more exasperating than, as some of his readers would have it, major or magisterial.Read the rest of Commentaries on our age.
Just what, or who, or where is religion for Lilla himself? Is the problem really the Bible—that, in addition to being modern, “we are heirs to the biblical tradition”? This seems so profoundly to beg the question. For what makes the Bible the Bible, if not the passion (“the forces unleashed”) that would so obviously survive its exile? What makes revelation (the divine light) different from lucidity (the natural light) if not the thing they precisely share: the appetite that drives human beings towards at once hedgehog-like commitments to the whole and fox-like commitments to the piecemeal and the plural. Reason and revelation are names for human desires, but from neither of these desires, then, can there be any separation.Read the rest of The forces unleashed.