• Angels and Diplomats: A Pleromatic Paradigm for Human Rights

    Christopher Warren (see profile)
    Human rights, Political theology, Diplomats, Angels, International law, Philology
    Item Type:
    intellectual history, angelology, history of ideas, History of International Law, Biblical criticism
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    Parts I and II of this Article show as a descriptive matter that the conceptual histories of early modern angels and diplomats are interlinked, and that their shared etymology opens into a new intellectual history of human rights—one that extends and, in some cases, revises previous work by thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Carl Schmitt, Samuel Moyn, and Jeremy Waldron. Angels and diplomats are figures of abundance and plenitude. As such, they throw into relief minimalist conceptions of human rights that, in certain scholars’ view, have become “eroded,” “a worldwide slogan in a time of downsized ambition,” “weak and cheap,” and “prisoners of the contemporary age of inequality.” Angels and diplomats, by contrast, exemplify what this Article calls a pleromatic paradigm of inviolable fullness—fullness of dignity, fullness of power, fullness of rights, and even fullness of resources. Borrowing from the ancient Greek term for fullness, pleroma, this so-called pleromatic paradigm—more so than the downsized version of human rights criticized by scholars like Samuel Moyn—imposes more substantial correlative duties and liabilities onto sovereignty. However, the pleromatic paradigm’s sources in hierarchical, monotheistic political theology invite consideration of whether we ought to bring angels and diplomats back down to earth in the name of political equality or whether, on the other hand, the pleromatic paradigm calls us toward fuller, more ambitious manifestations of human rights.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago


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