GOV 382M • Early Cosmopolitan Political Thought
6:30 PM-9:30 PM
The figure of Paul (died ca. 62-65) dominates the self-understanding of Western political and social institutions at points at which they regard themselves as Judeo-Christian in heritage. But Paul's political significance is more than theological, as the recent resurgence of interest among political theorists indicates. This secular political reading demonstrates Paul's concern for law and justice as one not with individual salvation or private righteousness but with the globalization of a local context: the decaying Roman Empire in which "nationality" consisted in a multiplicity of ethnoi hoping for justice beyond any particular instantiation of justice by law. Our seminar will connect the local character of any particular interpretation with Pauls epistolary advocacy of radically cosmopolitan community. Taking the plurality and multilingualism of peoples and faiths underlying Pauls universalizing aspirations as a departure, the seminar will explore - the thirteen letters (written ca. 50-62) traditionally attributed to Paul (six of disputed authorship), mostly to churches he had founded or visited, in the earliest written books of the New Testament, together with three major contemporary authors who analyze Pauline discourse along dimensions of cosmopolitanism for the world today (including authority, hospitality, community, and universally valid norms):
- Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (Stanford, 2003) - Jacob Taubes, The Political Theology of Paul (Stanford, 2004) - Theodore Jennings, Reading Derrida / Thinking Paul: On Justice (Stanford, 2005).