Anthropocene Crises and the Origin of Modernity

The term “Anthropocene” designates the present age of the world, dominated and transformed by human activity. It is therefore an age of crisis, whose central features include not only technological exploitation of the earth, but also a loss of faith in any order, natural or supernatural, that could serve as a guide to human affairs. In this essay, I wish to argue, first, that the roots of this crisis rest with the modern concept of nature, a concept of nature that, as Hans Jonas wrote, “contained manipulability at its theoretical core.”

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Insufficient Secularization

The process of secularization is insufficient if, voided of its original pathos, it leads to any form of sacralization of the immanence. Secularism becomes insufficient, if not harmful, in the same way as religious fundamentalism, if it becomes an obstacle to building pluralistic coexistence. Therefore, secularism should acknowledge the emergence of religious challenges. Religion has found, in the crisis of reason (metaphysical, scientific, and political), an opportunity not only to be present in the public sphere, but also to demand the right to equal treatment—appealing to the same democratic principles of secularism—and the right to political participation. Secularism cannot respond to these challenges with another form of “enlightened fundamentalism.”

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The Political Totalization of Carl Schmitt: Deciding on “the Absolutely Unpolitical”

While “the political” is among the most studied aspects of Carl Schmitt’s thought, little attention has been paid to the notion of “the unpolitical,” which, I argue, plays a crucial role in understanding the totalizing status of the political. This essay, first, illuminates the symptomology of Schmitt’s political totalization; it shows how, despite its claim to autonomy, the political emerges as the total: an infinite potential that consumes human life as a whole. Second, this essay argues that the institution of political totality essentially relies upon the elimination of its radical outside—the “absolutely unpolitical.” Throughout his writings Schmitt presents the unpolitical as a merely “fictitious” reality. Meanwhile, what remains obscured is an originary event, the decision on the absolutely unpolitical, which institutes a pre-political field and thus grounds any subsequent political decision.

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Beyond Hamlet and Hecuba: Irruption and Play in Carl Schmitt’s Thought

Those who read Hamlet or Hecuba from the specialist’s standpoint have often found it naïve, and maybe with good reason. Yet I do not want to linger on its worth or faults as a critical essay; I would rather try to read Schmitt’s book in the same way that he read Hamlet, as an eccentric writing, not completely closed, that deals with a subject matter but revolves around another one: Hamlet or Hecuba is something more than a piece of literary criticism.

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Badiou, Paul, and Anti-Judaism: The Abuse of Ethics

Paul has emerged as central to some of the most prominent European intellectuals today, notably Alain Badiou in Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. On the one hand, Badiou claims his philosophy to be a post-metaphysics in accord with postmodern critiques of traditional ontologies. He thus empties Paul of either historical or supernatural content. And yet, Badiou reconstructs what amounts to a secular political theology that strikingly reproduces the dogmatism of metaphysics. As his title announces, Badiou resurrects Paul in the name of universalism. Universalism claims to be, and indeed often is, an attempt to safeguard and respect everyone equally. But in Badiou universalism restages the erasure of difference and multiplicity in human experience that launched metaphysical critique in the first place. As secular venture what he ironically demonstrates is how tenacious traditional metaphysical unity remains even in apparently post-theological discourses.

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Czesław Miłosz on Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain

This article presents the connections between the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Miłosz’s fascination with the German novel, which has its roots in the 1930s, changed profoundly over the decades. Not only did the poet ponder on the immense intellectual value of The Magic Mountain, but he also turned to it eagerly as a form of literary “substance” and inspiration for his own works (The Seizure of Power, A Magic Mountain). The novel left deep marks on the author of The Captive Mind, because throughout his whole life he sought references to his own life in the fictitious events and characters from Mann’s story. The chosen fragments of texts and conversations with the Polish poet enable us to investigate the history of the extraordinary connection between Miłosz and this twentieth-century epic masterpiece, indicating at the same time the key moments of this “literary relationship.”

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