“The state as a worldly God”

Philosopher Siep on the idea of an absolute state and its relationship to religions

© Mohr Siebeck Verlag

“Der Staat als irdischer Gott” (“The state as a worldly God”) is the title of a newly published work by philosopher Prof. Dr. Ludwig Siep of the Cluster of Excellence „Religion and Politics“. Religious and secular positions quarrel about a religious fundament for the state in order to limit its claims to ultimate authority. The genesis of this “absolute” claim has a long history in modern age political philosophy, culminating with Hegel. The conception aims at liberating the state both from religion and economic interests. But the very human rights which the state claims to protect against these “competitors” are endangered by limitless state sovereignty. Consequences from this development can be drawn in contemporary discussions about the “return of religion”. The secular state remains necessary for the protection of basic rights. But it can refrain from any “civil-religious” aura if religions engage for human rights and accept the neutral state. To restrict the power of the global economy, on the other hand, states have to renounce part of their sovereignty for international organisations – without producing “failed states”, however. (exc)

Reference: Siep, Ludwig: Der Staat als irdischer Gott. Genese und Relevanz einer Hegelschen Idee, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2015, 280 pages, ISBN 978-3-16-153848-3, € 50.