Legitimacy and the Good
in Sovereignty and superheroes
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Contrary to the usual connection of Superman to Nietzsche’s Übermensch, this chapter offers a reading of Superman in relation to Plato’s conception of the Good. The connection is made via Superman’s association with the sun, which Plato describes as the ‘child of goodness’. This is done with a view to addressing the first problem in the theory of sovereignty, namely the legitimacy that seems to appear, as Schmitt argued, out of ‘nothingness’. Sovereign legitimacy has traditionally been attributed to the divine and hence miraculous, a source that persists even in the immanence of democratic rule. In this chapter I link this transcendent moment to Plato’s analysis of the Good to show who Superman is a character that always pushes us towards something better, and in this he is an avatar of social change and an alternative future.


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