Philosophy and Social Criticism vol:36 issue:8 pages:917-934
A dominant interpretation of Carl Schmitt’s work depicts him as a theologically inspired and anti-humanist thinker. This paper argues, however, that his concept of the political, founded on a plea for relative instead of absolute enmity, takes Schmitt away from theology onto a profane level, where enemies recognize each other as human beings. Although Schmitt states that he who uses the concept of humanity wants to betray, one can trace in his work a distinction between two concepts of humanity which gives a philosophical foundation for the distinction between relative and absolute enmity, and thus, for the political. It is at the basis of a minimally normative understanding of the political which can be of great interest for contemporary debates on the contemporary world order.