The question of ordering: creativity and limitation in political communities

Kalpokas, Ignas (2016) The question of ordering: creativity and limitation in political communities. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Available under Licence Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
Download (1MB) | Preview


This thesis is an enquiry into political ordering under its four core attributes: the state, sovereignty, law, and politics. It advocates analysing ordering as a process, rather than ‘order’ as a static given, and introduces an interactive model of ordering, which takes into account both the creative and the limiting thrusts in political communities. This thesis is informed by the theories of Benedict Spinoza and Carl Schmitt.

The first chapter is dedicated to assessing the current debate around the four core concepts: the state, sovereignty, law, and politics. Although it is not aimed at providing a full and definitive account of the scholarly debate, some major trends in current political and legal thinking are overviewed. This exposition subsequently serves as both the context and the impetus for the dynamic model of ordering, constructed in the final chapter.

The following two chapters are dedicated to the theories of Spinoza and Schmitt. In Spinoza’s case, some metaphysical preconditions have to be explored beforehand: immanent causality, striving to persevere in existence, and the right as power doctrine. The thesis then moves to the role of the state, sovereignty, law, and politics as tools for ensuring communal cohesion despite a general lack of reason and for joint progression towards reason. As for Schmitt, the thesis first delves into his emphasis on the fallen nature of humans, based on his religious convictions. The state, sovereignty, law, and politics are then analysed as parts of an effort to establish order where actually there can be none (since human existence is groundless), necessitating order-qua-theology. Thus, Spinoza and Schmitt both oppose and complement each other.

Lastly, the final chapter proposes an interactive model of ordering as perpetual process by revisiting the four core elements from a Spinozist-Schmittian perspective. This model postulates ordering as animated by constant tension between and reciprocal reproduction of the constitutive and the constituted thrusts, both of them being creative and limiting in different respects. In this model, groundlessness is seen as the basic condition which is, nevertheless, constantly counterbalanced by a need for quasi-religious belief in a quasi-objective given, e.g. Spinoza’s reason. Communal life is, therefore, constantly caught in-between these two poles. Consequently, ordering-as-process is claimed to be the only way in which anything common can be posited.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Wenman, Mark
Khan, Gulshan
Keywords: Sovereignty, law, politics, the state, Spinoza, Schmitt
Subjects: J Political science > JC Political theory
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Politics and International Relations
Item ID: 31266
Depositing User: Kalpokas, Ignas
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2016 09:43
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 06:01

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View