Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction

Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction

Language: English

Pages: 488

ISBN: 0804761434

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Giorgio Agamben is a philosopher well known for his brilliance and erudition, as well as for the difficulty and diversity of his seventeen books. The interest which his Homo Sacer sparked in America is likely to continue to grow for a great many years to come. Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction presents the complexity and continuity of Agamben's philosophy—and does so for two separate and distinct audiences. It attempts to provide readers possessing little or no familiarity with Agamben's writings with points of entry for exploring them. For those already well acquainted with Agamben's thought, it offers a critical analysis of the achievements that have marked it.

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creation”? Is it instead like deconstruction: a way of examining by suspending a system or structure? And if it is neither of these things, how are we to understand it? A clue to the term’s meaning is to be found in an unlikely place. As a young man, Agamben wrote an unpublished dissertation on Simone Weil.20 In the notebooks she left behind, with which Agamben was doubtless familiar, Weil repeatedly employs the strange term decreation.21 She writes, “The self is only a shadow projected by sin

there appears to be no lack of people seeking its satisfactions. Yet as Agamben well knows, this is not what Hegel is speaking of. What is at issue is not commercial value or cultural prestige but instead something more fundamental and more essential to the forms that cultures take and to the ideas they pursue. To better view the question Agamben takes a long historical step backward. As is well known, Plato recommended singular treatment for the artist in his ideal republic. Should an artist

done his utmost to put into practice (TTR, 145 [134]).18 Following the idea that Benjamin advanced and Agamben adopted, there are times when the fortuitous encounter of text and reader allows for a lightning-like glimpse into the heart of a work—which allows the reader to decipher something that had long remained occluded. It is this moment that Benjamin described as “perilous” and on which he claimed that “all reading is founded.” In his footsteps, Agamben is seeking to gather the elements not

exception in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, and elsewhere. In retrospect, his 35 discussions of sacrality and secularization, of stateless figures and states of exception, appear uncommonly prescient. To this prescience Agamben couples a provocative element that has not ceased to attract attention, and indeed it should come as no surprise that such declarations as “the concentration camp is the biopolitical paradigm of the modern age” have left few indifferent. This cursory list of reasons for

a content purely its own” (DTP, 4). In one of his most recent books, Signatura rerum (2008), Agamben declares that “the genuinely philosophical element in any work, be it a work of art, one of science, or one of thought, is its capacity for being developed” (SR, 8).9 Elsewhere, he similarly remarked that “the properly philosophical element in any work, be it a work of scholarship, of literature, or of art, is that which goes 36 unsaid therein, and thereby possesses a possibility for

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