Guide Agamben and Politics: A Critical Introduction (Thinking Politics)

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Signatures of Life and Power
Contents:
  1. Introduction: The Spectre of the Camp
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  3. Sovereign Exception: Notes on the Thought of Giorgio Agamben
  4. Giorgio Agamben

However, both differ in their methodological approaches to reading Agamben. Despite this point, these volumes do complement one another and both authors open up crucial points of inquiry. Abbott defines political ontology as the study of how our conception of the world as such conditions what we take to be the ontic possibilities for human collectives Abbott, In short, Abbott attempts to do for Heidegger what Marx did for Hegel: stand him on his feet Abbott, 9.

The sovereign, and those who exercise sovereign power, retains the ability to exclude or include persons within the legal and political orders. Auschwitz is the paradigmatic camp, and the ultimate combination of the state of exception and biopolitics. Here, Whyte contends that Agamben ignores the problems of economic exploitation and the use-value of labour power in his works.

As such he is unable to adequately articulate how it would be possible to put human capacities to a new use. Agamben does have the tendency in his thought to exclude agency — notably in his treatment of pornography he leaves no room for the roles of political movements in challenging assumptions about the roles of women and the possibilities for sex Whyte, It is the connection to Greece and capitalism that is the main strength of this book. However, because Agamben assimilates his analysis of the commodity form into his analyses of the law, he risks giving credent to an evolutionary account of salvation history which pervaded through Marxist thought.

Agamben has claimed that the society of the spectacle has destroyed traditional identities. Whyte does accept that contemporary biopolitics could be traced to the great declarations of rights in the eighteenth century as Agamben claims Whyte, This theme — the need for leftist thought to engage with concrete forms of social change — looms large throughout the work.

Engaging with the Holocaust and the camps is fraught with danger, especially as Whyte attempts to elucidate forms of politics and resistance which did exist within the camps Whyte, However, Whyte is careful not to fetishize such forms of action. This reading of Agamben is useful, as it paints his thought as influential for political theory, but also both too optimistic and too pessimistic at the same time Whyte, Agamben is too pessimistic about the avenues for political transformation that are open to us in the present — as mentioned, Whyte points towards Greece as a possible example for this politics.

However, she also contends that Agamben is too optimistic about the redemptive consequences of catastrophe. For Whyte, politics is a necessarily contingent event, a possibility that cannot be determined in advance Whyte, Whyte sees politics as what is at stake in his theorisation of the exception Whyte, The on-going departure for legal norms offers opportunities for thinking the centrality of legalism to emancipatory political strategies Whyte, This is important because for Whyte Agamben underestimates the way in which capital creates new identities that are bound up with reactionary and emancipatory political claims Whyte, Perhaps related to this point, Whyte is clear that this work does pose more questions than is answered, concluding that what is necessary is to begin to formulate a political thought within a society where spectacular consumption of useless commodities exists with subsistence living for billions and where a flexible class of people have their belongings made in sweatshops and worry that their holiday destinations are being engulfed in separatist struggles Whyte, However, Whyte identifies key questions which will need to be asked in order to transform this world.

To address these issues, Whyte draws us to her conclusion — that it is not enough to accede to teleological formations of capitalism.

Introduction: The Spectre of the Camp

Indefinite suspension of law is what characterizes the state of exception. In these kinds of camps, entire zones of exception are being formed: the state of exception becomes a status under which certain categories of people live, a capture of life by right. Sovereign law makes it possible to create entire areas in which the application of the law itself is held suspended, which is the basis of the Bush administration 's definition of an " enemy combatant". The English edition was translated by Adam Kotsko. In this study of medieval monastic rules, Agamben offers a genealogical approach to several concepts that Ludwig Wittgenstein established in his late philosophy, primarily the Philosophical Investigations : rule-following , form-of-life , and the central importance of ' use ' for Wittgenstein: 'the meaning of a word is its use in language', and he uses 'language' not just to speak of word-language but any understandable behaviour.

Agamben traces earlier versions of the term 'form-of-life' throughout the development of monastic life, beginning with the establishment of a genre of written rules in the fourth century.

Extremism in Politics - The Need for Critical Thinking

In order to sketch out the potential of this concept, we would need 'a theory of use — of which Western philosophy lacks even the most elementary principles'. According to reviewer Nathan Schneider , " The Highest Poverty examines two medieval Christian attempts, in the name of eternal life, to live this life beyond the reach of ordinary politics: several centuries of monasticism, and then the brief and momentous epiphany in the movement founded by Francis of Assisi.

Each, according to Agamben, fails in revealing ways. Giorgio Agamben is particularly critical of the United States' response to 11 September , and its instrumentalization as a permanent condition that legitimizes a " state of exception " as the dominant paradigm for governing in contemporary politics. In January , he refused to give a lecture in the United States because under the US-VISIT he would have been required to give up his biometric information, which he believed stripped him to a state of "bare life" zoe and was akin to the tattooing that the Nazis did during World War II.

However, Agamben's criticisms target a broader scope than the US " war on terror ". As he argues in State of Exception , rule by decree has become common since World War I in all modern states, and has been since then generalized and abused.


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Agamben points out a general tendency of modernity, recalling for example that when Francis Galton and Alphonse Bertillon invented "judicial photography" for " anthropometric identification", the procedure was reserved to criminals; to the contrary, today's society is tending toward a generalization of this procedure to all citizens, placing the population under permanent suspicion and surveillance : "The political body thus has become a criminal body". And Agamben notes that the Jews deportation in France and other occupied countries was made possible by the photos taken from identity cards.

Agamben's major books are listed in order of first Italian publication with the exception of Potentialities , which first appeared in English , and English translations are listed where available. There are translations of most writings in German, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.


  • Giorgio Agamben.
  • Differential Equations;
  • Giorgio Agamben (1942– ).
  • Problems in the philosophy of mathematics: Proceedings of International Colloquium in Philosophy of Science London 1965 Vol 3.
  • Authors and Affiliations.
  • Agamben and Politics: A Critical Introduction by Sergei Prozorov (Paperback, 2014)!
  • Dementia and the Paradigm of the Camp: Thinking Beyond Giorgio Agamben’s Concept of “Bare Life”;
  • From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Giorgio Agamben. Rome , Italy. Philosophy portal.

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    Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Agamben prefers using this term as it underlines the structure of ex-ception , which is simultaneously of inclusion and exclusion. In English transl. Greg Bird. Archived from the original on 12 August PDF available at Germanlawjournal.

    About The Political Ontology of Giorgio Agamben

    Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man? South Atlantic Quarterly , , 2—3 — Book Review. Translated by Adam Kotsko. The New Inquiry. Le Monde Diplomatique. Le Monde. Continental philosophy. Theodor W. Category Index. Michel Foucault.

    Sovereign Exception: Notes on the Thought of Giorgio Agamben

    Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons Wikiquote. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Sapienza University of Rome Laurea , Contemporary philosophy. Western philosophy. Much of the early commentary on Agamben appeared in journals and edited collections, and it took some time before more comprehensive treatments of his work began to appear in the form of monographs.

    It is the longest and most heavily cited monograph on Agamben to date. Colebrook, Clare, and Jason Maxwell. Cambridge, UK: Polity, Traverses almost the entirety of his corpus from The Man without Content to Opus Dei and reads him in relation to his philosophical influences, lateth-century French theory, and critical Marxism.

    Deladurantaye, Leland. Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction. A sophisticated account of Agamben that illuminates his philosophical influences. Mills, Catherine.

    Giorgio Agamben

    The Philosophy of Agamben. Stocksfield, UK: Acumen, Murray, Alex. Giorgio Agamben. London: Routledge, Concise and useful for those new to Agamben. Prozorov, Sergei. Agamben and Politics: A Critical Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, Watkin, William.