The Future Of Illusion: Political Theology And Early Modern Texts by Victoria Kahn

The Future Of Illusion: Political Theology And Early Modern Texts

byVictoria Kahn

Paperback | July 11, 2016

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In recent years, the rise of fundamentalism and a related turn to religion in the humanities have led to a powerful resurgence of interest in the problem of political theology. In a critique of this contemporary fascination with the theological underpinnings of modern politics, Victoria Kahn proposes a return to secularism—whose origins she locates in the art, literature, and political theory of the early modern period—and argues in defense of literature and art as a force for secular liberal culture.

Kahn draws on theorists such as Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, Walter Benjamin, and Hannah Arendt and their readings of Shakespeare, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Spinoza to illustrate that the dialogue between these modern and early modern figures can help us rethink the contemporary problem of political theology. Twentieth-century critics, she shows, saw the early modern period as a break from the older form of political theology that entailed the theological legitimization of the state. Rather, the period signaled a new emphasis on a secular notion of human agency and a new preoccupation with the ways art and fiction intersected the terrain of religion. 

About The Author

Victoria Kahn is the Katharine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Rhetoric, Prudence, and Skepticism in the Renaissance; Machiavellian Rhetoric: From the Counter-Reformation to Milton; and Wayward Contracts: The Crisis of Political Obli...
Politics and the Passions, 1500-1850
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Wayward Contracts: The Crisis of Political Obligation in England, 1640-1674
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Details & Specs

Title:The Future Of Illusion: Political Theology And Early Modern TextsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:260 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:July 11, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022637937X

ISBN - 13:9780226379371

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Preface
 
Introduction
1 Hamlet or Hecuba: Carl Schmitt’s Decision
2 Sacred Kingship and Political Fiction: Ernst Kantorowicz, Carl Schmitt, Ernst Cassirer, and Walter Benjamin
3 Machiavelli and Modernity: Leo Strauss, Carl Schmitt, and Ernst Cassirer
4 Spinoza and Liberal Culture: Leo Strauss, Carl Schmitt, and Hannah Arendt
5 Freud’s Spinoza/Freud’s Illusions
Coda
 
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In The Future of an Illusion, Victoria Kahn revisits the early twentieth century’s political-theological crisis, revealing the surprising preoccupation of both Jewish and Christian intellectuals with the texts of the European Renaissance and with the task of poesis, or poetic making. Poetics—the conscious, imaginative shaping of our world—is, Kahn argues, the concept crucially missing from contemporary arguments that posit religion as the irreducible ‘real’ of secular political life. Readings ranging from Carl Schmitt to Sigmund Freud, Shakespeare to Spinoza, show us how belief and politics are both imaginative arts that can be used to liberate or oppress. This is a bracing, profound, and timely book, which will have a widespread and transformative effect on the current debate over the place of religion in the public sphere.”