In his first interview to appear in English, Esposito answers a number of questions as they relate to his elaboration of an affirmative biopolitics. He suggests where his own understanding of biopolitics converges and diverges with other contemporary Italian thinkers working on biopolitics, namely Giorgio Agamben and Antonio Negri, and then offers a concise summary of his own work on immunity, especially as it emerges in his Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy. He concludes the interview with a series of reflections (...) on the meaning of death and birth for Nazism in light of its perverted concept of biopolitics. (shrink)
Creativity is one of the central dimensions of human achievement and social development and has always fascinated scientists and non-scientists alike. But what is the essential nature of creativity? And what is the role of consciousness in the emergence of creativity? If it is true that it has been explored in many aspects in the cognitive and neurobiological field, it is also true that the lore chest—from which the conscious mind through unconscious mechanisms extracts the rough material that is then (...) brought to the surface—has been less investigated. The purpose of this article is to give an account of how the multiplicity of levels of awareness is made possible by a spontaneous order that has nothing to do with a monolithic view of creativity. (shrink)
This volume brings together the advanced research results obtained by the European COST Action 2102: “Cross Modal Analysis of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication”. The research published in this book was discussed at the 3rd joint EUCOGII-COST 2102 International Training School entitled “Toward Autonomous, Adaptive, and Context-Aware Multimodal Interfaces: Theoretical and Practical Issues ” and held in Caserta, Italy, on March 15-19, 2010.
Musical improvisation is a sophisticated activity in which a performer realizes, real-time, melodic, and rhythmic sequences in harmony with those from other musicians. The study of musical improvisation helps one to understand not only the cognition of creativity, but also the complex neuronal basis of executive functions, the relation between conscious and unconscious action, and even more. So far, the prevailing models, founded on the brain imaging method, have focused on the connection between the cortical areas and their cognitive processes. (...) Little attention, on the other hand, has been given to the huge variety of subcortical activities, especially in the basal ganglia. This fundamental subcortical component, through its implicit procedures and the role it plays in memory, is responsible to produce new information all the time, allowing the prefrontal cortex to transform a huge and disordered amount of data in explicit creative acts. The basal ganglia are strongly related to the activation of chemical signals generated by dissonance or lack of symmetry between perception and expectation, participating even in the responses to environmental demands according to the circumstances. Thus, they interact with the frontal cortex and with the limbic system, playing a key role in planning and selecting appropriate actions and in decision making. In this text, we try to explain in which sense improvisation is connected to the processes of executive functions, to creativity and to the integrated activity of cortical–subcortical areas controlling the free flow of ideas and to expressive spontaneity. Eventually, we purpose a model according to which structure and process take part at the centrencephalic space of functional integration, which, through both competing and cooperating dynamics, gives way to spontaneous composition. (shrink)
This book by Roberto Esposito - a leading Italian political philosopher - is a highly original exploration of the relationship between human bodies and societies. The original function of law, even before it was codified, was to preserve peaceful cohabitation between people who were exposed to the risk of destructive conflict. Just as the human body's immune system protects the organism from deadly incursions by viruses and other threats, law also ensures the survival of the community in a life-threatening (...) situation. It protects and prolongs life. But the function of law as a form of immunization points to a more disturbing consideration. Like the individual body, the collective body can be immunized from the perceived danger only by allowing a little of what threatens it to enter its protective boundaries. This means that in order to escape the clutches of death, life is forced to incorporate within itself the lethal principle. Starting from this reflection on the nature of immunization, Esposito offers a wide-ranging analysis of contemporary biopolitics. Never more than at present has the demand for immunization come to characterize all aspects of our existence. The more we feel at risk of being infiltrated and infected by foreign elements, the more the life of the individual and society closes off within its protective boundaries, forcing us to choose between a self-destructive outcome and a more radical alternative based on a new conception of community. (shrink)
In this article, Roberto Esposito lays out the genealogical pathways linking the three major concepts around which his most recent work has wound its way: community, immunity, and biopolitics. Although immunity is necessary to the preservation of our life, when driven beyond a certain threshold it forces life into a sort of cage where not only our freedom gets lost but also the very meaning of our existence – that opening of existence outside itself that takes the name of (...) communitas. A hermeneutics informed by immunity can allow the category of community to regain a new political significance, without ending up in a substantialist metaphysics. This task is dictated by the urgent need for an affirmative biopolitics – a horizon of meaning – in which life would no longer be the object but somehow the subject of politics. But what sort of shape would this take? Where would we trace its symptoms? And with what objectives? A preliminary answer focuses on breaking the vise grip between public and private that threatens to crush the common, by seeking instead to expand the space of the common, in the fight, for example, against the planned privatization of water and the battle over energy sources. (shrink)
In this book, Esposito presents a historiography of organicist and holistic thought through an examination of the work of leading biologists from Britain and America. He shows how this work relates to earlier Romantic tradition and sets it within the wider context of the history and philosophy of the life sciences.
Now in a new edition, this exceptionally successful survey text introduces the faith, belief, and practice of Islam from its earliest origins up to its contemporary resurgence. John L. Esposito, an internationally renowned expert on Islam, traces the development of this dynamic faith and its impact on world history and politics. The fourth edition features updated and expanded coverage of Islam and politics; more extensive treatment of early Islam; an enhanced art program; a new appendix; and a free 6-month (...) subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online edited by John L. Esposito. (shrink)
An invaluable introduction to the breadth and rigor of Esposito's thought, the book will also welcome readers already familiar with Esposito's characteristic skill in overturning and breaking open the language of politics.
This exceptionally successful survey text introduces the teachings and practice of Islam from its earliest origins up to its contemporary practice. John L. Esposito, an internationally renowned expert on Islam, traces the development of Islam and its impact on world history and politics.Lucidly written and expansive in scope, Islam: The Straight Path, Fifth Edition, provides keen insight into one of the world's least understood religions. It is ideally suited for use in courses on Islam, world religions, comparative religions, and (...) Middle East history and culture.A FREE 6-month subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online, edited by John L. Esposito, is included with the purchase of every new copy of this text. (shrink)
What is the relationship between persons and things? And how does the body transform this relationship? In this highly original new book, Roberto Esposito - one of Italy’s leading political philosophers - considers these questions and shows that starting from the body, rather than from the thing or the person, can help us to reconsider the status of both. Ever since its beginnings, our civilization has been based on a strict, unequivocal distinction between persons and things, founded on the (...) instrumental domination of persons over things. This opposition arose out of ancient Roman law and persisted throughout modernity, to take its place in our current global market, where it continues to generate growing contradictions. Although the distinction seems to appear clear and necessary to us, what we are continually witnessing in legal, economic, and technological practice is a reversal of perspectives: some categories of persons are becoming assimilated with things, while some types of things are taking on a personal profile. With his customary rigour, Roberto Esposito argues that there exists an escape route out of this paradox, constituted by a new point of view founded in the body. Neither a person nor a thing, the human body becomes the decisive element in rethinking the concepts and values that govern our philosophical, legal, and political lexicons. (shrink)
In the following excerpt from Bios, Esposito sketches the template of immunity as a response to what he calls a "hermeneutic block" in Foucault's notion of biopolitics. After singling out those moments of greatest tension in Foucault's reading of biopolitics especially as it relates to Nazi thanatopolitics, Esposito sets out in detail the most important features of what he calls the immunization paradigm. Consisting of three dispositifs, namely sovereignty, property, and liberty, the immunitary paradigm has for Esposito (...) a decisively modern inflection. Indeed modern biopolitics cannot be thought apart from the mode by which communities immunize or protect themselves. (shrink)
Developing the arguments put forward in books such as Communitas, in this article the political philosopher Roberto Esposito tries to overcome the customary opposition between the notions of community and nihilism. His aim is to rethink what community might mean in an age of ‘completed nihilism’. In a subtle genealogical and etymological analysis of the concept of community, he demonstrates how, rather than establishing a substantial and positive bond, community is constituted by nothingness, by a shared lack—which communal, communitarian (...) and totalitarian politics seek to deny. The excavation of the meaning of communitas allows Esposito to critically examine the manner in which the thinking of community has been expunged by modern political philosophy. (shrink)
This exceptionally successful survey text introduces the teachings and practice of Islam from its earliest origins up to its contemporary practice. John L. Esposito, an internationally renowned expert on Islam, traces the development of Islam and its impact on world history and politics.Lucidly written and expansive in scope, Islam: The Straight Path, Updated Fifth Edition, provides keen insight into one of the world's least understood religions. It is ideally suited for use in courses on Islam, world religions, comparative religions, (...) and Middle East history and culture.A FREE 6-month subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online, edited by John L. Esposito, is included with the purchase of every new copy of this text. (shrink)
Tre studiosi di filosofia interculturale espongono – molto sinteticamente – le loro posizioni su alcuni snodi problematici del loro oggetto di ricerca. Cacciatore si concentra sulla relazione teorica, assai fruttuosa, fra lo storicismo critico-problematico, antiontologico e antimetafisico, della Scuola napoletana e i temi connessi all’interculturalità. D’Anna ritrova in Aristotele – discusso anche attraverso Pietro Piovani e Raul Fornet-Betancourt – un concetto di universale che, distinto da quello di assoluto, è inclusivo della molteplicità e dunque funzionale alla riflessione interculturale. Diana (...) – seguendo un percorso che contamina letteratura e filosofia – mette in luce il carattere storico, plurimo e relazionale dell’identità individuale e chiarisce il senso del cogito autobiografico. (shrink)
In this bold addition to Oxford's What Everyone Needs to Know® series, John L. Esposito and Natana DeLong-Bas offer a guide to the often-discussed but seldom-understood concept of Sharia, responding to misunderstandings and distortions, as well as providing answers to questions about the origin, nature, and content of Sharia.
All discourses aimed at asserting the value of human life as suchÑwhether philosophical, ethical, or politicalÑassume the notion of personhood as their indispensable point of departure. This is all the more true today. In bioethics, for example, Catholic and secular thinkers may disagree on what constitutes a person and its genesis, but they certainly agree on its decisive importance: human life is considered to be untouchable only when based on personhood. In the legal sphere as well the enjoyment of subjective (...) rights continues to be increasingly linked to the qualification of personhood, which appears to be the only one capable of bridging the gap between human being and citizen, right and life, and soul and body opened up at the very origins of Western civilization. The radical and alarming thesis put forward in this book is that the notion of person is unable to bridge this gap because it is precisely what creates this breach. Its primary effect is to create a separation in both the human race and the individual between a rational, voluntary part endowed with particular value and another, purely biological part that is thrust by the first into the inferior dimension of the animal or the thing. In opposition to the performative power of the person, whose dual origins can be traced back to ancient Rome and Christianity, Esposito pursues his strikingly original and innovative philosophical inquiry by inviting reflection on the category of the impersonal: the third person, in removing itself from the exclusionary mechanism of the person, points toward the orginary unity of the living being. (shrink)
Los discursos sobre el biopoder han marcado buena parte de las discusiones en filosofía política durante la última década. Particularmente, el desarrollo de estos discursos entre diversos filósofos italianos, lo que ha abierto diversas líneas de interpretación sobre el biopoder. A continuación se revisa una de las hipótesis centrales del planteamiento de Roberto Esposito y que justifica gran parte de su trabajo en torno a estos discursos. Esta hipótesis consiste en que la biopolítica mostraría el encuentro léxico entre el (...) vocabulario médico y político que se atestigua durante el siglo XX. Al mismo tiempo el artículo interroga críticamente esta hipótesis de modo que, por una parte, expone el planteamiento de Esposito y sirve como introducción a sus propuestas y, por otra, permite revisar los aportes y límites de esta particular recepción del biopoder. -/- The Biopower discourses have marked much of the discussions on political philosophy during the last decade. In particular, the development of these speechs among several Italian philosophers, which has opened various lines of interpretation of Biopower. Then review one of the central hypothesis of the approach of Roberto Esposito and that justifies much of her work around these discourses. This hypothesis is that the biopolitical would show the lexical meeting between the medical and political vocabulary which is testified during the 20th century. At the same time the article critically interrogates this hypothesis so that, on the one hand, it exposes the approach of Esposito and serves as an introduction to their proposals and, on the other hand, allows to review the contributions and limits of this particular reception of BioPower. (shrink)
Against the enthusiasm for dialogue and deliberation in recent democratic theory, the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito and French philosopher Jacques Rancière construct their political philosophies around the nondialogical figure of the third person. The strikingly different deployments of the figure of the third person offered by Esposito and Rancière present a crystallization of their respective approaches to political philosophy. In this essay, the divergent analyses of the third person offered by these two thinkers are considered in terms of (...) the critical strategies they employ. Contrasting Esposito’s strategy of “ethical dissensus” with Rancière’s strategy of “aesthetic dissensus,” it is argued that Esposito’s attempts to recruit the figure of the third person to dismantle the dispositif of the person are politically problematic, while Rancière’s alternative account of the third person is more promising for political theory and practice. (shrink)
This article underlines and draws attention to critical insights Esposito makes regarding the prospects of rethinking community in a globalized world. Alongside Agamben and Nancy, Esposito challenges the property prejudice found in mainstream models of community. In identity politics, collective identity is converted into a form of communal property. Borders, sovereign territories, and exclusive rights are fiercely defended in the name of communal property. Esposito responds to this problem by developing what I call a “deontological communal contract” (...) where being and ethics are prioritized over having and economics. I examine this new perspective on community in relation to mainstream models found in contemporary and classical social theory. (shrink)
Dans cet article, le philosophe Jonathan Glover illustre sa conviction selon laquelle les grandes œuvres littéraires peuvent nous donner autant à penser que les ouvrages philosophiques. Anna Karénine de Tolstoï permet d’abord à Glover de se demander dans quelle mesure nos émotions peuvent à elles seules constituer une boussole morale. Puis, quel que soit le jugement moral que l’on porte sur Anna Karénine, la question se pose de savoir si elle aurait pu agir autrement, ce qui met en (...) jeu la question traditionnelle de la liberté humaine. Enfin, Glover trouve dans le roman de Tolstoï l’occasion de s’intéresser à une notion peu envisagée par les philosophes, mais très valorisée par le romancier russe, à savoir le « sérieux ». (shrink)
El presente trabajo reflexiona sobre el pensamiento de la comunidad en Giorgio Agamben y Roberto Esposito. Ambos interrogan lo común desde una perspectiva impolítica que intenta deconstruir los presupuestos de la metafísica y de la filosofía política tradicionales para poder elaborar una conceptualidad afirmativa en clave ontológica. En estos autores predomina el recurso a la figura de la comunidad, situada luego en el horizonte de la biopolítica, ya que la vida deviene el centro hacia el cual apuntarían los dispositivos (...) de poder y las formas de subjetivación política actuales. El trabajo plantea como interrogante si estos abordajes ontológicos logran dar cuenta plenamente de lo común en términos políticos o sólo éticos. (shrink)
John Campbell proposed a so-called simple view of colours according to which colours are categorical properties of the surfaces of objects just as they normally appear to be. I raised an invertion problem for Campbell's view according to which the senses of colour terms fail to match their references, thus rendering those terms meaningless—or so I claimed. Gabriele de Anna defended Campbell's view against my example by contesting two points in particular. Firstly, de Anna claimed that there is (...) no special problem here for the simple view of colours, a similar invertion story could apply to primary qualities terms for shapes. Secondly, de Anna purported to give an account of the senses and references of colour terms in my invertion story which renders the senses and references of those terms mutually consistent. In this paper I contested both of de Anna's claims. Regarding the first, I argue that his imagined invertion of apparent shapes is not epistemically stable, in contrast to the invertion of apparent shapes is not epistemically stable, in contrast to the invertion of apparent colours. Hence the victims of apparently inverted shapes would be able to discover the mismatch of senses and refences of their shape terms, in contrast to the victims of apparent invertions of colours. Regarding the second, I argue that de Anna's account of the victim's colour terms itself uses and not merely mentions so-called colours terms. Hence de Anna' account of them is itself meaningless due to a mismatch of sense and reference. So I conclude that my objection to Campbell's simple view of colours stands. (shrink)
Summary Sister and brother Anna Letitia Barbauld (née Aikin; 1743?1825) and John Aikin (1747?1822) are two famous Rational Dissenting writers who strategically appropriated republican discourse to advance the Dissenting cause. Both make the case that, far from being subversive, Rational Dissent actually granted its adherents the independence that, from a republican perspective, was considered essential to true patriotism. In a fresh formulation of republican discourse, they present the strength of the Rational Dissenting commitment to ?free inquiry? as security for (...) continuing independence, enabling liberal Dissenters to act as patriotic guardians of British virtue and liberty against the dangerous effects of luxury, even as they continued to contribute towards the development of the British commercial economy and to promote the benefits of commerce, traditionally regarded with hostility by classical republicans. Effectively exploiting the classical republican belief in the central role of education, Barbauld and Aikin particularly sought to publicize the role that the Dissenting academies had played in producing patriots by making ?free inquiry? the basis of their pedagogical philosophy and practice. (shrink)
O presente artigo visa apresentar duas teorias biopolíticas, a saber, as de Giorgio Agamben e Roberto Esposito. O primeiro criou um tetraedro conceitual dotado de uma semântica própria que permite caracterizar a biopolítica, enquanto o segundo identificou um paradigma no qual a sociedade contemporânea se insere e qualifica a biopolítica. Longe de uma resposta unívoca ao que seja o fenômeno da biopolítica, esses dois autores italianos fornecem chaves conceituais imprescindíveis para compreender a realidade política em que estamos inseridos, que (...) se qualifica pela inserção da vida em sentido biológico na política. (shrink)
En este pequeño libro, Daniela Calabrò realiza una reconstrucción minuciosa del recorrido que sigue el pensamiento de Roberto Esposito desde sus primeros escritos hasta la actualidad. Con una capacidad de síntesis admirable, la profesora de la Universidad de Salerno identifica y comenta cada uno de las problemáticas y conceptos fundamentales de la obra de Esposito, desde lo impolítico a lo impersonal.
This article examines the place of phenomenology within Esposito’s thought on the impolitical. In order to do this, this piece firstly expounds the task of Deconstructionism within the framework of Esposito’s general thoughts about the community. Secondly, it shows the meaning and the relevance that the categories of subject and substance have for the metaphysical tradition of political philosophy. Finally, the article delves into the author’s reading of Arendt’s phenomenology when it comes to the concept of origin. The (...) main purpose of this article is to show the ways in which the impolitical becomes a thought of the community which bears within itself the denial of the political as the effort of a metaphysical subject to make the origin visible as a phenomenon. (shrink)
El presente artículo pretende, por un lado, estudiar la genealogía del término biopolítica, pasando por el término bíos. Para sostener tal reflexión, se utilizará la primera parte del libro de Roberto Esposito, Bíos. El término biopolítica pasa por una mutación, desde su primera utilización, en 1905. Por otro lado, con base en los datos presentados en la primera parte del capítulo, se hará un análisis de la consagración del término hecha por Michel Foucault. En el transcurso del artículo, además (...) de Foucault y Esposito, se hará una conexión con la obra arendtiana. (shrink)
How many hairs must a person lose before they become bald? There doesn’t seem to be an easy way of answering this. This is because “bald”, along with a large number of other words, is vague. This vagueness causes problems and Anna Mahtani specialises in thinking very precisely about these problems….
Setting out from the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, this article engages with post-Heideggerian thought on community, seeking to bring out and to enhance its political thrust for contemporary democracies. It shows how Jean-Luc Nancy, Roberto Esposito and Giorgio Agamben, ‘common the political’, that is, how they reconsider politics in light of a fundamental sense of co-existence which clears the ground for social openness, solidarity, plurality and autonomy. It then responds to a series of pertinent objections by further politicizing the (...) post-Heideggerian vision of the common. I set out to translate the ontologies of the common into more concrete political logics by relating them to actual political practices and by joining them to the political theory of hegemony and antagonism set out by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. Their conjunction of the ‘common’ with the antagonistic politics of hegemony is tension-ridden, as they draw from conflicting understandings of ‘the political’, pitting plurality and horizontal relations against division and uneven power. To mitigate that conflict, these two approaches should be situated at different sites of political action, and the hegemonic framework should be recast so as to bring it more into line with horizontalist ‘common’ politics. (shrink)
The Anna Karenina Theory says: all conscious states are alike; each unconscious state is unconscious in its own way. This note argues that many components have to function properly to produce consciousness, but failure in any one of many different ones can yield an unconscious state in different ways. In that sense the Anna Karenina theory is true. But in another respect it is false: kinds of unconsciousness depend on kinds of consciousness.
Intended both as an introduction to the thought of the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito and as a mapping of current biopolitical practice, this essay traces the contributions and the limits of recent Italian contributions to the discussion of biopolitics. The essay offers a summary of Esposito's insight into the relation of community and immunity and compares his thinking to other philosophers who take immunity as their object of study . Campbell goes on to read Esposito's privileging of (...) bios in the light of Giorgio Agamben's emphasis on zōē, while making reference as well to Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt's understanding of biopower. He concludes by arguing that the stakes of Esposito's analysis for an affirmative biopolitics concern fundamentally the nature of community and its opening to all life forms as bios. (shrink)
Anna Julia Cooper's 1892 A Voice from the South is a hybrid text that speaks provocatively to contemporary feminist philosophy. Negotiating exclusionary categories of being and knowing and writing herself into intellectual traditions meant to exclude her, Cooper's narrative methods are politically tactical and epistemologically significant. Cooper inserts subjectivity into objective analysis and underscores knowledge as located and embodied. By speaking from spaces of exclusion, Cooper fully articulates the promise of intersectional approaches to liberation.
This paper considers two among the several points of intersection in the work of Roberto Esposito and Jacques Derrida. First, and most obviously: in the context of conceptualizing community, and more broadly, Esposito and Derrida have elaborated concepts of immunity and auto-immunity to refer to auto-destructive modes of defense which profoundly threaten what – seemingly – ought to have been safeguarded through their mechanism. The second point of proximity is the use both make of figures of maternity and (...) birth in these conceptualizations. This comparison not only illuminates the differing philosophical commitments of Derrida and Esposito but also offers a means of challenging the fate of sexual difference in the work of Esposito. (shrink)
This article develops the affirmative biopolitics that Roberto Esposito intimates in his trilogy – Communitas, Immunitas and Bı´os. The key to this affirmative biopolitics lies in the relationship between the munus, a form of gift that is the root of communitas and immunitas, and the gift discourse that developed throughout the 20th century. The article expands upon Esposito’s interpretation of four theoretical sources that are crucial to his biopolitical perspective: Mauss and the gift-exchange tradition; Hobbes’s social contract theory, (...) which Esposito presents as the anti-gift that founded modernity’s thanatopolitical ‘immunization paradigm’; Bataille’s dangerous concept of sacrifice, which gestures toward an affirmative biopolitical community; and, finally, Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay, L’Intrus, which reflects on the near-decade Nancy lived as the recipient of the gift of a transplanted heart. This discussion of Mauss, Hobbes and Bataille is used to further develop Esposito’s interpretation of L’Intrus in a manner that supports his conception of an affirmative biopolitics ‘of, not over, life’. (shrink)
This conversation between two scholars of international law focuses on the contemporary realities of feminist analysis of international law and on current and future spaces of resistance. It notes that feminism has moved from the margin towards the centre, but that this has also come at a cost. As the language of women’s rights and gender equality has travelled into the international policy worlds of crisis management and peace and security, feminist scholars need to become more careful in their analysis (...) and find new ways of resistance. While noting that we live in dangerous times, this is also a hopeful discussion. (shrink)