Abstract: This chapter demystifies Carl Schmitt by interpreting his main insights through the lens of modern social sciences,. There is a large literature in political science on the political foundations of democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law. This literature emphasizes that legal rules, by themselves, cannot create a political equilibrium, which always depends on the expectation of political actors that other actors will contribute to preserving the constitutional regime rather than subverting it. This insight allows us to interpret Schmitt’s distinction between legality and legitimacy more concretely than in extant work. There is also a large literature in law and economics on ex ante rules versus ex post standards. Schmitt’s theory of the exception can be understood as an argument that governance through ex post standards, rather than ex ante rules, is inevitable and even desirable where political, economic, or military conditions change rapidly.