Cutting to the chase:Carl Schmitt and Hans Blumenberg on political theology and secularization

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Is modernity a distinct historical epoch that can be radically distinguished from the one that preceded it? What are the implicit philosophical assumptions regarding our understanding of historical time that determine the sort of answer that we are inclined to give to this question? The debate between Carl Schmitt and Hans Blumenberg concerning the conceptual status of secularization as an explanatory category for the emergence of modernity provides us with a paradigmatic case that sheds light on those questions. With the recent publication of the correspondence between Schmitt and Blumenberg, I suggest in my article a reading of the debate that exposes how they use each other's argument to sharpen their distinctive evaluation of modernity and its relation to Christian theology. These two arguments and their unique dynamic transcend the common ways of either defending or criticizing modernity's claim to be a distinct and legitimate historical epoch. The suggested conceptual reconstructions of the Schmitt-Blumenberg debate point to a revaluation of the terms of the quarrel over modernity, Christian theology, and the relations between them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-171
Number of pages23
JournalNew German Critique
Issue number111
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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