Der Staat als irdischer Gott 978-3-16-153848-3 - Mohr Siebeck

Ludwig Siep

Der Staat als irdischer Gott

Genese und Relevanz einer Hegelschen Idee

[The State as Earthly God. The Development and Relevance of a Hegelian Idea.]

2015. XI, 268 pages.
54,00 €
including VAT
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-153848-3
Published in German.
Religious and secular positions quarrel about the necessity of a religious foundation 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 religious and economic interests. But the very human rights which the state claims to protect against these »competitors« are endangered by limitless state sovereignty. Ludwig Siep shows how 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 assuming a »civil-religious« aura if religions themselves engage in the interest of human rights and accept the neutral state. To restrict the power of the global economy, on the other hand, states do have to renounce part of their sovereignty to international organisations – without, however, producing »failed states.«
In the present age, the reference to God within constitutions is just as much a bone of contention as the »deification of the state« because of the threat it may pose to the upholding of human rights. The idea of an »absolute« state has a long history in the political philosophy of modernity and culminates with Hegel. This notion belongs to the emancipation of the secular state from religious and ecclesiastical dictation, to the safeguarding of religious freedom and other fundamental rights. State-determined right is the only source of binding and enforceable laws. Ludwig Siep's study shows how philosophers since the time of the French Revolution viewed the state to be in a liberty-threatening rivalry with religious and economic forces. It could retain the loyalty of its subjects only through an independent imparting of meaning. In the case of emergency, it would have to be worth it to relinquish all private interests and to sacrifice just as much for the state as for belief. This idealization of the state was itself intended to support the protection of individual rights – quite the opposite to the 20th century totalitarian states disdainful of these rights. However, state sovereignty was not sufficiently limited by defensive rights of its citizens – especially in the German tradition. From this, the author draws out the implications for the present discussion in the wake of the »return of religion.« In order to secure basic rights in the face of religious powers and private interests, the state must remain the highest judicial authority – it cannot become »post-secular.« If religious communities defend human rights credibly, both inwardly and outwardly, and accept the impartial state, there is no need for a »moral« or even »sacred« state authority. In order to rein the global economy, however, some sovereignty must be given over to supranational organs – but without lack of legitimate power resulting in »failed states.«

Ludwig Siep ist Seniorprofessor am Exzellenzcluster »Religion und Politik« der Universität Münster.


The following reviews are known:

In: Forum Freie Gesellschaft — (11/2015) (Michael von Prollius)
In: Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie — 2019, 291–294 (Wolfgang Hellmich)
In: Hegel-Studien — 50 (2016), S. 286–288 (Jean-Francois Kervégan)
In: Zeitschr. f. Evang. Kirchenrecht — 61 (2016), S. 330–332 (Georg Kalinna)
In: Archives de Philosphie — 2016, Heft 4, S. 796–797 (Jean-Francois Kervégan)
In: Zeitschr.f.Evang.Ethik — 60 (2016), S. 314–316 (Hartmut Kreß)
In: Theologische Literaturzeitung — 141 (2017), S. 554–557 (Jörg Dierken)
In: Direito em Debate — 25 (2016), S. 234–237 (Artut Flaminio Da Silva)
In: Zeitschr.f.Philosoph.Forschung — 72 (2018), S. 304–306 (Wolfgang Hellmich)