TwoThe Machine of Political Theology and the Place of Thought

TwoThe Machine of Political Theology and the Place of Thought

Roberto Esposito

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780823267613

Publisher: Fordham University Press


This book is about the relationship between theology and politics. In the late stages of a debate that has spanned the entire twentieth century, the ultimate significance of the notion of “political theology” continues to elude us. Despite our efforts to move beyond it, we still remain confined within its horizons. The reason lies in the fact that political theology is neither a concept nor an event, but the hub around which the machinery of Western civilization has been turning for more than two thousand years. At its center is the articulation where universalism and exclusion, unity and separation, meet. All the philosophical and political categories that we employ, beginning with the dispositif of the person, Roman and Christian in origin, still mirror this exclusionary device. The text analyzes the conceptions of philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, Kant, and Hegel through this lens. The possibility of moving past political theology—which is the core task of contemporary philosophy—demands a radical conversion of our conceptual lexicon. Only once we have restored thought to its proper “place”—relative not to the single individual, but the human species—will we be able to escape the machine that has imprisoned our lives for far too long.