To Carl Schmitt

To Carl Schmitt: Letters and Reflections

JACOB TAUBES
TRANSLATED BY KEITH TRIBE
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MIKE GRIMSHAW
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/taub15412
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    To Carl Schmitt
    Book Description:

    A philosopher, rabbi, religious historian, and Gnostic, Jacob Taubes was for many years a correspondent and interlocutor of Carl Schmitt (1888--1985), a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist, law professor -- and self-professed Nazi. Despite their unlikely association, Taubes and Schmitt shared an abiding interest in the fundamental problems of political theology, believing the great challenges of modern political theory were ancient in pedigree and, in many cases, anticipated the works of Judeo-Christian eschatologists.

    In this collection of Taubes's writings on Schmitt, which includes decades of letters exchanged between them, the two intellectuals explore ideas of the apocalypse and other central concepts of political theology. Taubes acknowledges Schmitt's reservations about the weakness of liberal democracy yet distances himself from his prescription to rectify it, arguing the apocalyptic worldview requires less of a rigid hierarchical social ordering than a community committed to the importance of decision making. In these writings, a sharper and more nuanced portrait of Schmitt's thought emerges, as well as a more complicated understanding of Taubes, who has shaped the work of Giorgio Agamben, Peter Sloterdijk, and other major twentieth-century theorists.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52034-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION: “A VERY RARE THING”
    (pp. ix-xlvi)
    MIKE GRIMSHAW

    How can, how does one engage withTo Carl Schmitt? For this slim collection of writings, comprising letters and lectures on Carl Schmitt by Jacob Taubes, is a fascinating volume that not only increases our knowledge of Taubes, it also demands a rethinking of the role of Schmitt in twentieth-century thought, in particular theology and philosophy. Most centrally, it forces—or I should say, in a Taubeanstyle polemic, should force—a reconsideration of what is meant, is undertaken, and eventuates when we use the termpolitical theologyto describe a particular intellectual and scholarly endeavor. For political theology of the...

  4. CARL SCHMITT: APOCALYPTIC PROPHET OF THE COUNTERREVOLUTION
    (pp. 1-18)

    I would like to testify to my respect for Carl Schmitt, still a restless spirit in old age—although as a conscious Jew I belong among those whom he has marked as “enemy.”

    I have never overlooked this axiom of Carl Schmitt. However, what he means by “enemy” is not to be found in his major, clamorous, texts, but rather in his broken confessions, published in 1950 asEx Captivitate Salus.

    Carl Schmitt was a jurist, not a theologian; but a legal theorist who entered the scorched earth that theologians had vacated.

    Theologians are inclined to define the enemy as...

  5. LETTER TO ARMIN MOHLER
    (pp. 19-24)

    Your lines really pleased me, for I thought that you might have resented my criticism. If I am not wrong, last time I wrote it was on airmail paper, and as I ran out of space I had just finished the “negative” part. . . . So it is good that you have taken the criticism in such a friendly way.

    In medias res: Carl Schmitt is (besides Heidegger)theintellectual potential who stands head and shoulders above all intellectual scribbling. There is no doubt about that. (By the way: Israel’s minister of justice, working on constitutional matters, put in...

  6. APPENDIX: FOUR PASSAGES FROM LETTERS OF CARL SCHMITT TO ARMIN MOHLER
    (pp. 25-26)

    The letter from Jacob Taubes that I have had copied is quite astonishing, a major document. I have shown it to a few acquaintances of good judgment; all of them were very moved by it. An old, very cultured, and experienced journalist from the time of the old monarchy (Rudolf Fischer) said after reading it: Bring that Jew here! I could tell you a great deal more of the effect of this letter. But I am sure that he has not readNomos der Erde, for otherwise he would have gone into the quote from St. John on p. 33....

  7. LETTER TO CARL SCHMITT
    (pp. 27-32)

    Let me thank you once again for your cordial reception, indeed, reception of a friend; for your patience and the openness with which you talked of the failures in the long life of a legist. But such failures, if I might say, using a phrase that still rings in my ears from my time as a student, can be “an incomparable political teacher.”¹

    Simply as an arch-Jew I hesitate to burn my bridges. Because in all the unspeakable horror we were spared one thing. We had no choice: Hitler made us into absolute enemies. And there was no choice in...

  8. EXTRACT FROM A DISPUTE ABOUT CARL SCHMITT PARIS, 1986
    (pp. 33-48)

    Herr Berding, you have not made it very easy for me, since, by referring to “Der Führer schützt das Recht”¹ and “Die deutsche Rechtswissenschaft im Kampf gegen den jüdischen Geist,”² you have already directed the discussion down a one-way street, and so you compel me, if I understand this discussion properly, to begin with a response to that. The kind of discussion that we propose is not an easy one, and I approach it with mixed feelings, although mixed in a positive sense: that I am in fact happy for the director of this institute to have already used the...

  9. 1948–1978: THIRTY YEARS OF REFUSAL
    (pp. 49-58)

    The history of Jacob Taubes and Carl Schmitt goes back to 1948; I will not recount it here, but tell you how it began. In 1948 I was a young upstart, I got a special grant from the Hebrew University, the Warburg Prize. I was in Jerusalem, that was after the division of the city, when the university library was in an enclave and out of bounds. I was ordered—professors were very much in charge, and if you want today to see an intact German university, then go to Jerusalem!—I was expected to study, or I was honored...

  10. EDITORIAL NOTE
    (pp. 59-60)
    PETER GENTE

    It was in 1961 that Jacob Taubes first came as a visiting professor to the Free University in Berlin, and in 1965 he settled among the Judaists in the Institute for Hermeneutics. I unpacked his library from the big crates in which they had been shipped from New York and was not a little surprised to find that almost every book by Carl Schmitt carried a personal dedication from the author. Soon Benjamin’s letter was making the rounds of the institute, for which the reader ofHamlet oder Hekubahad been waiting, but that was missing from the edition of...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 61-74)