Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as by John P. McCormick

By John P. McCormick

During this first in-depth serious appraisal in English of the writings of Carl Schmitt, John McCormick has offered philosophers, historians, and political theorists with the main complete account of Schmitt's critique of liberalism to be had. He examines why know-how turns into a rallying cry for either correct- and left-wing intellectuals every now and then while liberalism looks anachronistic, and exhibits the continuities among Weimar's ideological debates and people of our personal age.

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Given the polemical pedagogic context of newly founded and radical universities within which eclecticism emerged, it was inevitable that textbook ‘histories of morality’ would be quickly penned as teaching aids to sharpen interest in future employment of the method. For natural law offered a unifying discourse that could serve to promote the position of jurisprudence, and thus the faculties of law and philosophy, against theology. This is well brought out in the commentaries of an outside observer, the Scottish lawyer George Turnbull (–), upon one of the leading textbooks in the tradition of Pufendorf and Thomasius written by J.

Indeed, the two writers viewed both eclecticism and ‘modern’ natural law theory as valuable precisely because they introduced new categorical distinctions that should impose a decisive closure upon the confused polemics that had increasingly shrouded and tainted Protestant German university life. The intention was to provide moral theology with its proper place rather than to reduce it to a cipher. Nevertheless, the combination of their derivation of a new textbook tradition for the teaching of ethics with substantial changes to the curricula of university teaching under pressure from state patronage undoubtedly helped to demote the intellectual authority of theology and correspondingly raise the independent stature of scientific ethics.

Both in the monolithic methodology of Begriffsgeschichte and in the uncritically comprehensive collation of those writers who describe themselves as eclectics (or historians who produce lists of eclectics) there is a real risk of mistaking the word for the concept and thus missing the essence of the concept itself. ⁵⁰ In the example of eclecticism it is more important to look for the wider ramifications rather than specific confessions of affiliation on the part of authors, and such a via media is possible if one moves away from the self-constraining Begriffsgeschichte of the historiography on natural science and the sheer sprawling nominalism of the alternative.

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