Philosophy Today

Volume 68, Issue 1, Winter 2024

Special Topic: On Political Theology

Montserrat Herrero
Pages 55-70

Power as Gift
Derrida’s Political Theology of Sovereignty

The article addresses the question of whether Derrida in his political theology can be considered an “unfaithful” reader of Schmitt. While Derrida does not quote Schmitt’s Political Theology, some of his assertions are reminiscent of Schmitt’s disciplinary use of political theology. Indeed, Schmitt’s account of the relationship between exception, decision, and sovereignty was abundantly discussed in Derrida’s last seminar, The Beast and the Sovereign. Derrida attempts in this seminar to deconstruct the sovereignty of the nation-state and its onto-theologico-political foundation. The question I raise in this article is whether, in previous years, Derrida himself had not implicitly made a different political theology that, considering the negative theological path, develops an alternative idea of power. The hypothesis explored is that this alternative paradigm is derived from one of the names of the impossible: the gift.