Paul W. Kahn


On his book Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty

Cover Interview of April 24, 2011


Political theory at the turn of the millennium was a dying field, of interest to only a dwindling group of academics.  The innovations in the field were European imports that largely reflected the complicated history of post-Marxist thought there.  These innovations, for the most part, made no connection with the American political imagination.

We need a political theory that takes seriously our own political practices and beliefs.  We must talk less about what politics should be, and more about who we are.

Of course, we are free to criticize what we find: we are not bound to our political practices as if to nature itself.  But if our criticisms are going to have any purchase on the larger public, we must first understand the set of meanings that have informed our political practices for a very long time.

Political Theology promises a rebirth of political theory as an inquiry into the nature of human freedom as it has been realized in a distinctive set of practices and beliefs.

I have sought to lay a foundation, which I hope will be built upon by broad and deep inquiries into the American social imaginary as it responds to its own creation: a practice of popular sovereignty. Those inquiries should span law, history, and popular culture.  In each of these domains of the imagination, we are practicing our own freedom.