[FL 3779]  LIC. Sovereignity from the Modern State to Totalitarian Regimes – 24.25

Semester II
friday 16:30 - 18:15

Course Information

Language: English

Semester II
friday 16:30 - 18:15


The first part of this course examines how sovereignty is understood in early modern classical philosophical texts. The modern construction of sovereignty involves a process through which the attribute of sovereignty migrates from an omnipotent God to the modern state. The course focuses on the interplay between power, dominion, and the religious sphere within the works of Hobbes, Spinoza, and Rousseau, raising the pivotal question: Who holds the authority to make decisions on religious matters—the state, individuals, or religious authorities? In the second part, the course examines the notions of political and civil religions as they aptly describe the nature of totalitarian regimes, particularly Communism and Nazism. It also features the perspectives of several Christian thinkers, including Luigi Sturzo, Gaston Fessard, and Erik Peterson, who emphasize the subversive role of Christian thought against various ideologies. This discussion holds special significance for Catholic students, prompting them to critically assess and identify “false projects of redemption” within contemporary political ideologies. Active participation from students is highly encouraged throughout the course.


Aron, Raymond. The opium of the intellectuals. Routledge, 2017.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan or The Matter, Forme, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil. Hackett Publishing Co, Inc, 1994.
Maier, Hans, ed. Totalitarianism and Political Religions. Psychology Press, 2004.
Peterson, Erik. Theological Tractates, ed. and trans. by M.J. Hollerich. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011.
Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Le Contrat Social, Flammarion, 2012.
Spinoza, Baruch. Theologico-Political Treatise. Hackett Publishing, 2004.

Schmitt, Carl. Political Theology, Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, ed. and trans. by G. Schwab. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2005.