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Notes on a Political Atheology: A Reading of Hans Kelsen's Secular Religion

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The purpose of the present study is to present a critical view on Hans Kelsen's new work, Secular Religion, finished in 1964 but published only in 2012. The treatise starts with a reflection on the contemporary relevance of the problem of the bonds between Science, Politics and Religion in the Modern Times, and examines the main theses contained in Secular Religion, by pointing out its strong and weak points, and concludes with a general account on Kelsen's point of view concerning the nascent "political theology". In short, Kelsen intends to demonstrate the conservative and deceptive outlines of the attitude held by many intellectuals – Erich Voegelin, Karl Löwith, Arnold J. Toynbee, Etienne Gilson, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger etc. – who see religious elements in the fundamental structures of the Modern times, such as: Philosophy, Science and Politics. According to Kelsen, such identification is not only false but also dangerous, given the fact that the characterization of the laic and democratic project of the Modern Times as some kind of religion can lead to the theologization of the thought, which is typical of totalitarian political systems.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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  • Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, edited by authorisation of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR), is an international, peer-reviewed journal, first published in 1907. It features original articles on philosophical research on legal and social questions, covering all aspects of social and legal life.
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