The Signature of All Things: On Method
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The Signature of All Things is Giorgio Agamben's sustained reflection on method. To reflect on method implies for Agamben an archaeological vigilance: a persistent form of thinking in order to expose, examine, and elaborate what is obscure, unanalyzed, even unsaid, in an author's thought. To be archaeologically vigilant, then, is to return to, even invent, a method attuned to a "world supported by a thick weave of resemblances and sympathies, analogies and correspondences." Collecting a wide range of authors and topics in a slim but richly argued volume, Agamben enacts the search to create a science of signatures that exceeds the attempts of semiology and hermeneutics to determine the pure and unmarked signs that signify univocally, neutrally, and eternally. Three conceptual figures organize Agamben's argument and the advent of his new method: the paradigm, the signature, and archaeology. Each chapter is devoted to an investigation of one of these concepts and Agamben carefully constructs its genealogy transhistorically and from an interdisciplinary perspective. And at each moment of the text, Agamben pays tribute to Michel Foucault, whose methods he rethinks and effectively uses to reformulate the logic of the concepts he isolates. The Signature of All Things reveals once again why Agamben is one of the most innovative thinkers writing today.
it has not subject and object but to being. marked what is to be found within that thing."2 "There is noth- ontology. of it than the one contained Stevens titled "Description of Natural Without And I know of no betin a poem by Wallace Place": ing exterior that is not an announcement the Libei de podapricis, of the interior," reads and by means of signs man can know what has been marked in each thing.3 And if, in this sense, "all things, It is possible that to seem - it is to be,
all, the theme of Adam's language. however, is taken further to Paracelsus, by being arranged into words allow us to designate semiotic spot domain, coinciding with it- thus positioning and hermeneutic relations. then he understands he understands the Speech of another; how the spirit has manifested entails from the beginning I I and a more THE SIGNATURE complex development OF ALL THEORY THINGS of the semiotic model. The sign (which he itself is inert and mute, and
the curious, introduce into the system of THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THEORY THINGS But what are these signs? How, amid all the aspects and so many interlacing forms, faced at any given moment pause because it indicates form constitutes does one recognize with a character that should give one a secret and essential does. It signifies bles what it is indicating resemblance? for its distinct would then be indistinguishable it is another resemblance, this signature an adjacent
who argue that in actuality the attributes exist in God and those who maintain with equal firmness that the 19 attributes exist only in the minds of human beings. The theory of signatures allows us also to throw light on one of the Signatures problems that have engaged scholars of the Kabbala, namely, the the Sephiroth h (l interrupt this false alternative. for the Kabbalists) (\ The attributes (as are neither the essence of God '/ THE nor something natures SIGNATURE OF
bivalent caesurae, runs up against an undecidable. separate an example's and if one one necessarily It is thus impossible paradigmatic character-its to clearly standing for all cases- from the fact that it is one case among others. As in a magnetic field, we are dealing not with extensive magnitudes and scalable but with vectorial intensities. i.e., a necessity of the assent of all to a judgment that is regarded as an example [Beispiel] them into sense and in what way is the