The Return of the Theological-Political in Democracy and the Rediscovery of Biblical Politics

Shmuel Trigano

Abstract: The Spinozist moment was a turning point for democratic theory. It reduced the biblical heritage of political philosophy to mere theology and thus founded the “au­tonomy of politics” so brilliantly theorized by Rousseau in his ‘Social Contract.’ Yet Spinoza and Rousseau could not found their system without reintroducing (an imma­nent or secularized) transcendence to politics, such that a kind of reenchantment, in the form of civil and political religions, has occurred in modern politics. These are crucial matters to consider today, as this transcendence so crucial to the foundations of democ­racy is collapsing. To confront this problem, one might consider that Spinoza theoreti­cally founded democracy by expelling the biblical, and its rediscovery today might help us think through the present crisis.

Biography: Shmuel Trigano is a professor of sociology of religion and politics at Paris University. He is the founding director of the College of Jewish Studies at the Alliance Israélite Universelle (Kol Israel Haverim), the founding director of Pardès, a European Journal of Jewish Studies and Culture and of Controverses, a journal of ideas. Trigano has published eighteen books in the field of philosophy, political thought and Jewish studies, among them Philosophy of the Law, The Beginning of Politics in the Torah (1991), and edited numerous collective books, among them a four volume book Jewish Society Through the Ages. One of his publications The Democratic Ideal and the Shoah - The Unthought in Political Modernity has been just published in English (SUNY Press) and in Hebrew (Ben Gurion University).

Volume 4, Number 3 (Summer 2009) pp. 304–318