Creation and salvation -- What is the contemporary? -- K. -- On the uses and disadvantages of living among specters -- On what we can not do -- Identity without the person -- Nudity -- The glorious body -- Hunger of an ox : considerations on the Sabbath, the feast, and inoperativity -- The last chapter in the history of the world.
The end of human history is an event that has been foreseen or announced by both messianics and dialecticians. But who is the protagonist of that history that is coming—or has come—to a close? What is man? How did he come on the scene? And how has he maintained his privileged place as the master of, or first among, the animals? In The Open, contemporary Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben considers the ways in which the “human” has been thought of as (...) either a distinct and superior type of animal, or a kind of being that is essentially different from animal altogether. In an argument that ranges from ancient Greek, Christian, and Jewish texts to twentieth-century thinkers such as Heidegger, Benjamin, and Kojève, Agamben examines the ways in which the distinction between man and animal has been manufactured by the logical presuppositions of Western thought, and he investigates the profound implications that the man/animal distinction has had for disciplines as seemingly disparate as philosophy, law, anthropology, medicine, and politics. (shrink)
This volume constitutes the largest collection of writings by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben hitherto published in any language and all but one appear in English for the first time. The essays consider figures in the history of philosophy (Plato, Plotinus, Spinoza, Hegel) and twentieth-century thought (Walter Benjamin, Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze, the historian Aby Warburg, and the linguist J.-C. Milner). They also examine several central concerns of Agamben: the relation of linguistic and metaphysical categories; messianism in Islamic, Jewish, and Christian (...) theology; and the state and future of contemporary politics. Despite the diversity of the texts collected here, they show a consistent concern for a set of overriding philosophical themes concerning language, history, and potentiality. (shrink)
In this book, one of Italy's most important and original contemporary philosophers considers the status of art in the modern era. He takes seriously Hegel's claim that art has exhausted its spiritual vocation. He argues, however, that Hegel by no means proclaimed the 'death of art' (as many still imagine) but proclaimed rather the indefinite continuation of art in a 'self-annulling' mode. With astonishing breadth and originality, he probes the meaning, aesthetics, and historical consequences of that self-annulment. He argues that (...) the birth of modern aesthetics is the result of a series of schisms - such as between artist and spectator, genius and taste, and form and matter - that are manifestations of the deeper, self-negating yet self-perpetuating movement of irony. He offers an imaginative reinterpretation of the history of aesthetic theory from Kant to Heidegger. The final chapter offers a dazzling interpretation of Dürer's Melancholia. (shrink)