The Philosophy of Agamben

The Philosophy of Agamben

The Philosophy of Agamben

The Philosophy of Agamben

Synopsis

Giorgio Agamben has gained widespread popularity in recent years for his rethinking of radical politics and his approach to metaphysics and language. However, the extraordinary breadth of historical, legal and philosophical sources which contribute to the complexity and depth of Agamben's thinking can also make his work intimidating. Covering the full range of Agamben's work, this critical introduction outlines Agamben's key concerns: metaphysics, language and potentiality, aesthetics and poetics, sovereignty, law and biopolitics, ethics and testimony, and his powerful vision of post-historical humanity. Highlighting the novelty of Agamben's approach while also situating it in relation to the work of other continental thinkers, The Philosophy of Agamben presents a clear and engaging introduction to the work of this original and influential thinker.

Excerpt

Giorgio Agamben has become well known in recent years for his interventions in political theory, ethics and questions of law. Since the translation of his enigmatic work, The Coming Community, in 1993, English publication of his work has occurred at an ever-increasing rate. In the process, his complex and philosophically dense reflections on contemporary problems of sovereignty, biopolitics and ethics have transformed the terms of much of the critical discourse of radical theory. Terms such as sovereignty, the exception, biopolitics and life can scarcely be used today without reference to Agamben. Moreover, his approach to questions of language, subjectivity and representation has reoriented discussion away from the deconstructive approach that has largely dominated in the Anglo-American context of late. In doing so, it has lent these questions a new philosophical importance by recasting their status within the history of philosophy, and especially in relation to the perceived metaphysical propensity to found humanity on negativity alone. As such, his work has also helped to reopen questions of philosophical anthropology, contributing to a renewed interest in the distinction between animality and humanity.

Despite the critical interventions of his work, however, the concepts he develops and their philosophical importance remain obscure to many. This is in no small part because of the sheer complexity and difficulty of his work. There are several sources of this complexity, the first of which is simply its breadth of reference. In often sharp contrast to most contemporary philosophers and theorists, Agamben is perhaps more akin to the classical learned figure of the Italian Renaissance – schooled in various fields of study, including aesthetics, religion, politics, law and ethics, rigorously faithful to the original text, and studiously attentive to philological detail. Often, a detail from a foundational but more or less forgotten cultural icon or text will provide Agamben with the kernel of his argument, generating and guiding a deep interpretation and intricate conceptual apparatus. For . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.