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Mr Luke Collison

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Research project: Politics, Religion and Authority in Hobbes and Schmitt

Abstract

The project investigates the concept of authority in the interpenetrating domains of politics and religion. The question of authority, its ontology and its modes of operation will be investigated through an engagement with historical perspectives on ideology and theories of the role of authority in relations between state, church, and law. The crises of authority of the English Civil War and Weimar Germany respectively spurred Thomas Hobbes and Carl Schmitt to reassert the necessity of authority for the state. However, each provided a ground for authority through a radical theoretical departure from the traditional articulation of church and state of their milieux. Hobbes is often regarded as the point of origin for the theory of the modern state and the project commences by charting the shifts in Hobbes's radical scientific and materialist justifications for an authoritarian form that is superficially a traditionalist resolution to the crisis to the 1640-60s. Schmitt adopts a parallel strategy in eschewing the reactionary argument of conservative icons and reference points, de Maistre, Donoso or Bonald, for an ostensibly scientific sociology.

The resurgence of scepticism regarding the legitimacy of parliamentary democracy attests to the continued relevance of such questions. The project investigates the concept of authority; firstly through the changing conceptions of the relations between church and state in the work of Hobbes between de Cive, Leviathan and Historia Ecclesiastica; and secondly, focusing initially on Schmitt's attempts in Roman Catholicism and Political Form and related works to model state politics on a paradigm of the church, before turning to his shift in the 1930s when he adopts an organic institutional model in support of fascist politics.

Biography

I completed an MA at CRMEP (Kingston University, London) in 2015. My undergraduate degree was a combined BSc and BA at the University of New South Wales in Mathematics and Philosophy.

Areas of research interest

  • Political philosophy
  • Thomas Hobbes
  • Carl Schmitt
  • Giorgio Agamben
  • Sovereignty and authority
  • Political theology

Qualifications

  • MA Philosophy and Contemporary Critical Theory, CRMEP, Kingston University
  • BSc BA in Mathematics and Philosophy, UNSW, Australia
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