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Religions 2018, 9(4), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040106

Existential Choice as Repressed Theism: Jean-Paul Sartre and Giorgio Agamben in Conversation

English Department, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL 60660, USA
Received: 26 January 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2018 / Accepted: 30 March 2018 / Published: 2 April 2018
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Abstract

This article brings Sartre’s notion of existential authenticity, or sovereign decisionism, into conversation with the work of contemporary political theorist Giorgio Agamben, who argues that sovereign decisionism is the repressed theological foundation of authoritarian governments. As such, the article seeks to accomplish two goals. The first is to show that Sartre’s depiction of sovereign decisionism directly parallels how modern democratic governments conduct themselves during a state of emergency. The second is to show that Sartre’s notion of existential authenticity models, what Agamben calls, secularized theism. Through an ontotheological critique of Sartre’s professed atheism, the article concludes that an existential belief in sovereign decision represses, rather than profanes, the divine origins of authoritarian law. I frame the argument with a reading of Sartre’s 1943 play The Flies, which models the repressed theological underpinnings of Sartre’s theory. View Full-Text
Keywords: Jean-Paul Sartre; Giorgio Agamben; existentialism; contemporary continental philosophy; authenticity; sovereignty Jean-Paul Sartre; Giorgio Agamben; existentialism; contemporary continental philosophy; authenticity; sovereignty
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Norris, M.A. Existential Choice as Repressed Theism: Jean-Paul Sartre and Giorgio Agamben in Conversation. Religions 2018, 9, 106.

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