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The Tyranny of Values, 1959

Schmitt55,218 words

The Reflections of a Jurist upon the Philosophy of Values Dedicated to Those who Were at Ebrach in 1959

Trans. Simona Draghici

Editor’s Note:

The following text is one of two essays (from 1959 and 1967) by Carl Schmitt with the title “The Tyranny of Values” later published in Carl Schmitt, Die Tyrannei der Werte (Hamburg: Lutherisches Verlagshaus, 1979). This text was written in 1959. The translation is from Carl Schmitt, The Tyranny of Values, ed. and trans. Simona Draghici (Washington, D.C.: Plutarch Press, 1996), which is out of print and very hard to find. If anyone knows the translator, please put me in contact.

The Question

There are people and things, persons and objects. There are also forces and powers, thrones and dominations. The theologians and the moralists speak of virtues and vices, the philosophers speak of qualities and modes of being. On the other hand, what are values? And what does a philosophy of values mean?

Indeed, value and disvalue had been talked about even before a philosophy of values came into being. Still, in most cases, a distinction is made whenever it is said that objects have value and people have merit. To put a value on merit is considered unworthy. On the other hand, nowadays, merit too tends to be changed into value, as a consequence of the philosophy of values. The shift implies quite a striking rank-promotion of value. Thus value has been revalued, so to speak. It should be noticed that the values talked about by the philosophy of values are not meant to have an existence of their own, but rather, validity. Value is not, rather it validates. There are some people who talk of the ideal being of values. Nevertheless, such shades of meaning need not be deepened, because no matter what, value is not, but rather it validates. As we shall see at even closer quarters, value readily implies a stronger urge to materalize. Value pines for direct actualization. It is not there, to be pointed to, but realization-prone and on the watch for enactment and execution.

One may remark: we are dealing here with sharp distinctions of meaning. Hence the inference of a complicated issue, a challenge that one faces. It is not a difficult problem for Marxist thinkers and sociologists, though. Dialectical materialism provides them with a convenient key. Besides, they can hold each and every non-Marxist philosophy under suspicion, expose it and unsparingly unmask it as sheer ideology. The pillorying is particularly easy in the case of a philosophy that deals with values and presents itself as a philosophy of values. According to the Marxist teachings, the whole bourgeois society is a society of owners of money and goods, in whose hands all — people and things, persons and objects — is converted into money and goods. All is brought to the market where only economic categories are relevant, namely, worth, price, and money. On the other hand, in the productive sector, one deals with the surplus-value. A small number of people appropriate the surplus-value which a great many produce, while the latter are cheated out of the surplus-value which is their due. It always goes back to value. No wonder, the Marxists would say, that the reality of such a situation is imprinted on the minds of ideologists as a philosophy of values.

Here, our answer to the issue, though, will not be reduced to such simplicity. It is self-evident that value and price and money-value are economic concepts, deeply rooted in the economic sphere. But it would be unfair to reduce everybody and everything to them, and so dismiss the whole philosophy of values.

Rather, the philosophy of values will be tackled as a philosophical-historical phenomenon. We shall probe its origin and its state, and seek to clarify its undeniable achievements.

The Philosophy of Values: Its Beginning and Historical Philosophical Circumstances

The explanation of its astounding success lies in the fact that the philosophy of values originated in very peculiar, historical-philosophical circumstances, in a response to a threatening question raised by 19th-century nihilism. It is of no consequence whether it assumes or rejects existential philosophy under any of its forms, whether it upholds or denies existentialism. Both historically and philosophically, it is always true what Martin Heidegger had to say about the origin of the philosophy of values, and his words are quoted here at length:

In the 19th century, value became a current topic of discussion, and reflection on value, customary. Nonetheless; it was only as a consequence of the dissemination of Nietzsche’s writings that it became quite popular to talk about values. One would talk of vital values, eternal values, about the hierarchy of values, about spiritual values, which one claimed to have discovered in Antiquity, for instance. The philosophy of values came into being through a scholarly commerce with philosophy and the resystematization carried out by neo-Kantianism. Systems are built out of values, and value-ranks are traced in ethics. Even in the Christian theology, God is understood to be the highest value, the summum ens qua summum bonum [highest being as highest good]. Science is held to be value-free, and valorizations are attributed to the various world outlooks. Value and valuation act as a positivistic substitute for the metaphysical.[1]

Martin Heidegger’s words clearly define and accurately outline the origin and the historical-philosophical circumstances of the philosophy of values. A science that observes the laws of causation, and so is value-free, threatens human freedom and man’s religious, ethical, and legal responsibility. The philosophy of values raised to that challenge, in the sense that it opposed a sphere of values, as a realm of ideal valuations, to a sphere of being that was only causally understood. It was an attempt to assert the human being as a free, responsible creature, indeed not in itself, but at least, in its valuation, what one called value. That attempt was put forth as a positivistic substitute for the metaphysical.

The valorization of value is grounded in it. Who sets up values? The clearest and so far also the most candid answer to this question is to be found in Max Weber’s writings. According to Weber, it is the individual human being who, in full and genuinely subjective freedom of decision, sets up values. Thus, the absolute value-freedom of scientific positivism is circumvented, and values are set free from it, in the opposite direction, namely, of the subjective world outlook. The genuinely subjective freedom of value-setting leads, however, to an endless struggle of all against all, to an endless bellum omnium contra omnes. In such circumstances, the very presuppositions about a ruthless human nature on which Thomas Hobbes’ philosophy of the state rests, seem quite idyllic by comparison. The old gods rise from their graves and fight their old battles on and on, but disenchanted and, as we today must add, with new fighting means that are no longer weapons, but rather abominable instruments of annihilation and processes of extermination, horrible products of value-free science and of the technology and industrial production that follow suit. What for one is the Devil is God for the other. “And so it goes on through all the orders of life . . . and that is so for all times.” One may fill many pages with such emotional and graphic remarks as Max Weber’s.[2] It always happens that values stir up strife and keep enmity alive. The fact that the debunked old gods have become merely valorized values only renders the struggle more ghostlike and the fighters hopelessly dogmatic. That is, in brief, Max Weber’s message.

Such earnest thinkers as Max Scheler and Nicolai Hartmann have sought to do away with the subjectivism of valuations and in its stead to lay the groundwork for an objective and, at the same time, non-formal[3] philosophy of values. Max Scheler worked out a ranking order of values that goes upwards, from the useful to the holy. Nicolai Hartmann, on the other hand, built up a system of objective connective parts of a real world, set up in layers, with the inorganic lying at the bottom and the spiritual at the top. Nevertheless, values still must valuate, even whenever they are valuated as lofty or sacred, because values always count for something or for someone. Nicolai Hartmann himself has stressed it forcibly. What he says is that value “does not attach itself to its ideal valuations, but to its actual,” that is to say, “the value-affected individual subject.”[4] His observation is decisive for our juridical approach, which takes into consideration only the actual valuation. Hence, in concrete situations, we deal only with the value-affected subject.

The immanent logic of the reflection on values cannot elude just everybody. A peculiar thought-shift becomes inevitable as soon as value is expressed, whether it is subjective, formal, or material. It is given, and one must add: by necessity, with each value-judgment. Thus, the peculiarity of value lies in the very fact that instead of an existence of its own, it is part of a valuation only. Consequently, its potential comes to nothing, unless it gains acceptance. Value must continuously valuate, that is to say, it must bring its influence to bear: otherwise it dissolves into an empty manifestation. Whoever says value brings its influence to bear and has it enacted. Virtues are practiced, norms are applied, orders are executed, but values are set up and enacted. Whoever asserts a value, must bring its influence to bear. Whoever maintains that it has value regardless of the influence brought to bear by any individual human being who endorses it, is simply cheating.

The Point of Attack

Whether something has value and how much, whether something is worthy and how high can be determined only from an assumed point of view or particular vantage-point. The philosophy of values is a point philosophy; the ethics of values, a point ethics. Standpoint, viewpoint, vantage point are always head-words of their vocabulary. They are neither ideas nor categories, neither principles nor premises. They are just points. They stand in the system of a genuine perspectivism, in a system of reference. Each value is therefore a positing value. Even the highest value — whether the individual human being in his own earthly existence, or humankind “as the supreme being,” whether freedom or the classless society, life as such or the living standard, whether the sacred or also the deity — each has as such, that is, as the highest value, only a ranking value within the value system. Therefore, one may speak freely of the “revalorization of value.” The revalorization raises no difficulty here, as long as it is simply a matter of commutation, of exchange. The purpose of standpoints, viewpoints, vantage-points is not to remain fixated. On the contrary, it is part of their meaning and function to change with the changing planes. It is at this stage that the point-character of the reflection on value becomes evident, that Max Weber’s straightforwardness breaks through.

It would be wrong, indeed, to reduce it to a mere position of force and so overlook his considerable sociological insights into the matter. Nor should one stick to his allegedly neo-Kantian theory of knowledge.[5] Weber’s thinking reveals a characteristic penetrating quality with regard to this very aspect of the philosophy of values. Amid so many viewpoints, standpoints, and vantage-points, he distinguishes another, quite special, the personal point, which is the really decisive. He openly calls it the point of attack. In his debate with the historian Eduard Meyer, Max Weber maintains that the result is an “endless diversity of appraising positions,” and to interpret it means “to uncover just the possible standpoints and the points of attack of the valuation.” The three terms, “standpoint,” “point of attack,” and “valuation” are placed by Weber in quotes, in his characteristic way of thinking and writing.[6]

The term “point of attack” carries with it the potential aggressiveness that is immanent in each value-attribution. Terms like “standpoint” or “viewpoint” divert one’s attention and give the impression of an apparently limitless relativism, relationism, and perspectivism, and concomittantly, of as great a tolerance, joint to a fundamental neutrality. Before long, however, one becomes aware of the fact that here, too, the points of attack are at work, dispersing the illusions of neutrality. One may try to neutralize the term “point of attack,” in the sense of recasting it into a weaker formulation, such as “starting point,” for instance. That would soften only the uncomfortable representation, though, while leaving the immanent aggressiveness untouched. The latter remains the “fatal, seamy side of values.”[7] The aggressiveness is the logical consequence of the thetic and subjective essence of values and it renews itself continuously through their practical enactment. Likewise, the distinction between value law and statutory law does not do away with the aggressiveness, but rather intensifies it.[8] Because of the ambivalence of values, that aggressiveness will not cease to renew its virulence, whenever values as such are brought by actual people to bear upon other people as real as they.

The Realization of Value-Destroying Values

At first sight, the ambivalence of values too seems to wear a neutral garment of the kind of, for instance, plus and minus in the sphere of mathematical objectivity, or of the positive and negative poles, in the objective realm of physics. Nonetheless, it does not take long to perceive that this kind of neutrality is but the positivism of the natural sciences, the very nihilistic value-freedom of which one wants to get rid without delay, as one plunges into the freedom of the genuinely subjective values, and then through it, to take up the unleashed struggle of all against all, again, and overcome the great nihilistic crisis. Has meanwhile the bridge to the objective theory of values been cast over the abyss which severs the value-free science from the human freedom of decision? Have the new objective values dispelled the nightmare which, to use Max Weber’s words, the struggle of valuations has left in store for us?

They have not and could not. To claim an objective character for values which we set up means only to create a new occasion for rekindling the aggressiveness in the struggle of valuations, to introduce a new instrument of self-righteousness, without for that matter increasing in the least the objective evidence for those people who think differently.

The subjective theory of values has not yet been rendered obsolete, nor have the objective values prevailed: the subject has not been obliterated, nor have the value carriers, whose interests are served by the standpoints, viewpoints, and points of attack of values, been reduced to silence. Nobody can valuate without devaluating, revaluating, and serving one’s interests. Whoever sets a value, takes position against a disvalue by that very action. The boundless tolerance and the neutrality of the standpoints and viewpoints turn themselves very quickly into their opposite, into enmity, as soon as the enforcement is carried out in earnest. The valuation pressure of the value is irresistible, and the conflict of the valuator, devaluator, revaluator, and implementor, inevitable.

A thinker of objective values, for whom the higher values represent the physical existence of the living human beings, respectively, is ready to make use of the destructive means made available by modern science and technology, in order to gain acceptance for those higher values. Another regards it a crime to wish to do away with the allegedly higher values of human existence. One may get a sample of it from the debate over the use of nuclear weapons.[9] It is unnerving to see that ultimately even the origins and the meaning of the philosophy of values are lost through this logic, and the incipient self-restraint claimed by the scientific positivistic nihilism is eliminated. Consequently, the absolute value-freedom of science may also be posited as value, even as the highest value, and assert itself. No consistent logic of values can hinder the positor and the enforcing agent of this highest value from rejecting the whole philosophy of values as unscientific, retrograde, and nihilistic. Thus, the struggle between valuator and devaluator ends, on both sides, with the sounding of the dreadful Pereat Mundus [the world perish].

The Tyranny of Values

How else should the struggle of the subjective or even the objective values end? The higher value has the right and the obligation to subdue the lower value, while the value per se righteously eliminates the disvalue. That is plain and clear, and is grounded in the peculiar character of valuation. It is precisely “the tyranny of values” that gradually emerges in our consciousness. It was not I who coined the phrase. One comes across it in the work of the outstanding objective theoretician of values, Nicolai Hartmann. Its significance to our context is such that we must quote from his work here as we did earlier from Martin Heidegger’s on the historical origins of the theory of values. Here is what Nicolai Hartmann had to say:

As soon as it prevails upon a person, each and every value tends to raise itself to the position of sole tyrant of the whole human ethos, and that at the expense of other values, and even of those that are not diametrically opposed to it. Indeed, the tendency is not limited to values as such, in their ideal sphere of existence, but readily extends to them as determining (or selective) forces in the sphere of human feelings regarding values. This tyranny of values appears clearly in the one-sided types of the prevailing morality, in the familiar intolerance shown to an alien morality, and moreover, is succeeds in winning over individually any person to a single value. Thus, there is a fanaticism of justice (fiat justitia pereat mundus [let there be justice though the world perish]), which is opposed not only to love, to say nothing of charity, but essentially also to all the superior values.[10]

These words of Nicolai Hartmann’s conjure the image of a value assertion that is destructive of value, as already mentioned. For practical purposes, with which we as jurists are concerned here, it makes no difference whether the tyranny of values is unavoidable only psychologically, or also existentially, or still, whether it finds its way through the subjective human affinity for value, as Hartmann meant it, or whether it lies in the structure of value thinking, as it has already been shown in our exposition. Correctly understood, the phrase “tyranny of values” may supply the key to the understanding that all thinking about values only foments and intensifies the old and endless struggle between convictions and interests. Not much is gained by what the modern philosophy of values acknowledges as the “fundamental relationship,” according to which, occasionally the lower value may be preferred to the higher value, because that is the prerequisite of the higher value. All that points only to the confusion that affects the whole argumentation about values, which continually gives rise to new relations and points of view, thereby the position is always maintained from which the opponent is reproached that he does not heed the manifest values; or, in other words, he is disqualified as value-blind. The polemical utilization of the word “blind” is adequate to the logic of values as long as it is concerned with the systems of reference that it will build up out of viewpoints, standpoints, and vantage-points.[11]

From the point of view of its logic, value must always valuate. In other words, for the highest value, the highest price is not too high and must be paid. This logic is by far too strong and conspicuous to be subdued in the struggle of values. One needs only to compare the old-fashioned relationship between end and means with the modern relationship between higher and lower values, or even that between value and disvalue, in order to understand how checks and concerns on account of the particular value-logic disappear. Formerly, when value was substantially something else than worth, the end could not justify the means. That the end should justify the means was considered an abominable maxim. On the other hand, in the hierarchy of values, there are other relationships that count and justify it, namely that the value cancels the disvalue, and the higher value treats the lower value as inferior to it. Max Scheler, the grand master of the objective theory of values said, and Theodor Haecker has repeated after him with a zeal that is more polemical than reflective, that the negation of a negative value is a positive value. Mathematically that is clear, namely, that minus and minus equals plus. From such a statement it is easily inferred that the connection between the theory of values and its old, value-free opponent cannot be so readily loosened. All of Max Scheler’s propositions allow evil to be returned for evil, and in that way, to transform our planet into a hell that turns into paradise for value.

The Unmediated and the Legally Mediated Enactment of Values

The theory of values scores its real triumph in the debate about the question of the just war, as we have seen. That lies in the nature of the thing itself. All respect for the opponent disappears — well, it turns into a disvalue — whenever the struggle against the opponent is a struggle for the highest value. Disvalue has no rights over value, and there is no price too high to pay in order to force the highest value through. Thus, one deals here only with the annihilator and the annihilated. All the concepts of the classical law of warfare of the Jus Publicum Europaeum (the European Civil Law) — such as the just enemy, the just motive of war, the proportionality of the means, the prescribed course of action, the debitus modus — fall hopelessly victim to this valuelessness. The urge to make values prevail becomes a coercion to enact values directly.

In 1920, a book was published in Germany, under the prophetic title: Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensumwerten Lebens (Licence for the Annihilation of Life-Deprecating Life).[12] Its authors were two highly regarded German academics, belonging to the best German cultural tradition, namely, the physician Alfred Hache, and the jurist Karl Binding. Both were liberals, and both were animated by the best humane intentions. Both had pondered over, in a downright touching way, how the misuse of one’s propositions as concerns the annihilation of an existence that devaluates value through limitations and reservations of all sorts might be prevented. It was not only unfair but also particularly base to attribute after the fact to the two German scholars some of the blame, and hold them responsible, for the actual annihilation that occurred 20 years later.

No matter what, one should not discard the opportunity of weighing each word in the title of their book, strictly in the light of the concept of the tyranny of values. Ne simus faciles in verbis. Let us not be careless about the ways we use our words. In earlier times, such as in 1920, it was possible in all humaneness and good faith to challenge the annihilation of a life-deprecating existence. How harmless and benign may today appear any attempt to suppress opinions about the devaluation of expression, books that disparage book-publishing, books and articles that deprecate printing while they are in the press, and to make impossible the transportation of persons or goods that devalue transportation while those persons and goods are already in railways stations or in market-places. All that could be clamored for in virtue of the watchword of license to annihilate by disvalue. All would be but the unmediated prevalence of the higher value at the expense of the lower value or of the very disvalue.

It would be an interesting topic of philosophical research in itself to compare the problematic enabling of values with the problematic existence of the Platonic ideas. What the specialist-philosophers might say about it would no doubt prove as true of the values of a still higher rank as what Goethe has said about the idea: it would always appear as the strange visitor. Nor can value be otherwise, truly speaking. The idea requires mediation: whenever it appears in naked directness or in automatical self-fulfillment, then there is terror, and the misfortune is awesome. For that matter, what today is called value must grasp the corresponding truth automatically. One must bear that in mind, as long as one wants to hold unto the category of “value.” The idea needs mediation, but value demands much more of that mediation.

In a community, the constitution of which provides for a legislator and a law, it is the concern of the legislator and of the laws given by him to ascertain the mediation through calculable and attainable rules and to prevent the terror of the direct and automatic enactment of values. That is a very complicated problem, indeed. One may understand why law-givers all along world history, from Lycurgus to Solon and Napoleon have been turned into mythical figures. In the highly industrialized nations of our times, with their provisions for the organization of the lives of the masses, the mediation would give rise to a new problem. Under the circumstances, there is no room for the law-giver, and so there is no substitute for him. At best, there is only a makeshift which sooner or later is turned into a scapegoat, due to the unthankful role it was given to play.[13]

A jurist who interferes, and wants to become the direct executor of values should know what he is doing. He must recall the origins and the structure of values and dare not treat lightly the problem of the tyranny of values and of the unmediated enactment of values. He must attain a clear understanding of the modern philosophy of values before he decides to become valuator, revaluator, upgrader of values. As a value-carrier and value-sensitive person, he must do that before he goes on to proclaim the positings of a subjective, as well as objective, rank-order of values in the form of pronouncements with the force of law.


[1] Martin Heidegger: Holzwege [Wood Tracks] (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1950), pp. 209-10. The quotation is from the essay “Nietzsches Wort ‘Gott is Tot’” (Nietzsche’s Word “God Is Dead”), included in it.

[2] Max Weber: “Wissenschaft als Beruf” [Science as Calling], 1919, published in Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre [Collected Articles on the Theory of Science], 2nd ed., under the general editorship of Johannes Winckelmann (Tübingen, 1951), p. 588; Gesammelte politische Schriften [Collected Political Writings], 2nd ed., Johannes Winckelmann, general editor (Tübingen, 1958), pp. 547-48 (the end of the lecture “Politik als Beruf” [Politics as Calling]). With regard to the “Struggle of Value-Orders,” the pages listed in Johannes Winckelmann’s Index to the Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre are worth comparing, such as pp. 150, 153ff., 490, 491ft., 503, 587ff., 592.

[3] “Material” is rendered here as “non-formal” for emphasis.—Trans.

[4] See Nicolai Hartmann, Ethics, vol. 2 (London, 1932), p. 270.—Trans.

[5] Raymond Aron’s Introduction to the French edition of of Max Weber’s two lectures “Wissenschaft als Beruf” [Science as Calling] and “Politik als Beruf” [Politics as Calling], translated by Julien Freund and published in the series Recherches en sciences humaines, No. 12 (Paris: Plon, 1959).

[6] Max Weber: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre [Collected Articles on the Theory of Science], 2nd ed., Johannes Winckelmann, general editor (Tübingen, 1951), p. 246 (originally dated 1906). Edward Shils translated the various points as “evaluative standpoints” and “evaluative approaches” in The Methodology of the Social Sciences (Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1949), p. 144.

[7] I quote from the German translation of Vision and Reality (Vision und Wirklichkeit) by the Spaniard Americo Castro (Cologne/Berlin: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1957), p. 60: “The most peaceful realms and religions themselves rest on injustice, the fatal reverse side of the value which they embody.” One finds a lot about the values of discourse in Americo Castro’s book. Still the linguistic meaning of the Latin term “valor” is not identical with the German “Wert,” as I pointed out in my contribution to the volume brought out in honor of Professor Legaz y Lacambra, vol. 1 (Santiago de Compostela, 1960), pp. 165-78.

[8] This distinction is made by Rainer Specht in the article “Zur Struktur formal-material gebauter Rechtsphilosophien” [On the Structure of the Formal-Material Philosophies of Law] in Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, vol. xliv/4 (Neuwied and Berlin: Hermann Luchterhand, 1958), pp. 475-93. It is clear that conceptually the setting up of a norm is not the same as the setting up of a law. Still, the setting up presses for enactment. The history of modern revolutions shows how fast the dictates of reason along these lines could thus lead in turn to the dictatorship of the value-carrying and value-feeling subjects. The legislators and the tyrants of Ancient Greece had not been far behind. The sharp distinctions made by Rainer Specht should not be discarded; rather, in our opinion, the opposite needs to be done, because they complement our reflections. Specht himself remarks that the thesis is not merely exposed, but rather put into effect, and he adds: “In a certain way, the thetic character alters the kernel affected by it in a manner somewhat resembling the way in which a mere noema acts upon a dikaioma. Edmund Husserl had time and again insisted upon an analogous aspect” (p. 484). All very well. But what does it mean that this thetic and this formative character not only exposes, adds to and attaches itself to value? It means that not only the thetic, formative character operates a change, in a certain manner, as Rainer Specht says, but also, and even more so, that the logic of the setting up and of the enactment is laid out in the characteristic feature of the value and belongs itself ineluctantly to value-logic.

[9] “Die Zerstörung der naturrechtlichen Kriegslehre” [The Dismantling of the Doctrine of Warfare, Based on Natural Law], reply to Father Gundlach, S.J., by Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde and Robert Spaemann, in Atomare Kampfmittel und Christliche Ethik: Diskussionbeitrag deutscher Katholiken [Nuclear Weapons and Christian Ethics: Contributions to the Debate of the German Catholics] (Munich: Jos. Kösel, 1960).

[10] Nicolai Hartmann: Ethik, 1926, pp. 524ff. (See also Ethics, vol. 2, London, 1932, p. 423). In the work of the Catholic theologian Werner Schölingen, entitled Aktuelle Moralprobleme [Present Moral Problems], Hartmann’s remarks about the tyranny of values are quoted with vivid approval. Nonetheless, the author did not feel the need to draw any basic conclusion from it that would contribute to a critique of the philosophy of values.

[11]  Dietrich von Hildebrand writes about positive and negative value-blindness in a widely-noted article, “Die Idee der sittlichen Handlung” [The Idea of Moral Action] in Husserl’s Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, III, 1916, p. 162 ff.

[12] The closest translation of the title in the present context is “License for the Annihilation of a Life-Deprecating Life.” Nonetheless, it has been widely and wrongly understood, and rendered, as “License for the elimination of the biologically unfit” or “License for the elimination of biological disvalues’ and so, offhandedly, the book came to be regarded after WWII as a legitimation of genocide. Hence Schmitt’s keenness to set matters right and exonerate its authors.—Trans.

[13] In the preceding essay, written some seven years later, Schmitt recalls the fact, omitted here, that supreme courts do take over some of the functions of the law-givers, particularly in highly controversial cases of broad significance. However, their decisions are limited to individual situations, and for their enforcement the intervention of the executive branch of government becomes necessary.—Trans.


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