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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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.
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)
In this article we argue that the classical—linear and bottom-up directed—models of causation in biology, and the ‘‘proximate/ultimate’’ dichotomy, are inappropriate to capture the complexity inherent to biological processes. We introduce a new notion of ‘‘multilevel causation’’ where old dichotomies such as proximate/ultimate and bottom-up/ top-down are reinterpreted within a multilevel, web-like, approach. In briefly reviewing some recent work on complexity, EvoDevo, carcinogenesis, autocatalysis, comparative genomics, animal regeneration, phenotypic plasticity, and niche construction, we will argue that such reinterpretation is a (...) necessary step for the advancement of the ‘‘Extended Synthesis.’’. (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)
We construct an explicit covariant Majorana formulation of Maxwell electromagnetism which does not make use of vector 4-potential. This allows us to write a “Dirac” equation for the photon containing all the known properties of it. In particular, the spin and (intrinsic) boost matrices are derived and the helicity properties of the photon are studied.
In this paper I propose a new interpretation of the British evolutionary synthesis. The synthetic work of J. B. S. Haldane, R. A. Fisher and J. S. Huxley was characterized by both an integration of Mendelism and Darwinism and the unification of different biological subdisciplines within a coherent framework. But it must also be seen as a bold and synthetic Darwinian program in which the biosciences served as a utopian blueprint for the progress of civilization. Describing the futuristic visions of (...) these three scientists in their synthetic heydays, I show that, despite a number of important divergences, their biopolitical ideals could be biased toward a controlled and regimented utopian society. Their common ideals entailed a social order where liberal and democratic principles were partially or totally suspended in favor of bioscientific control and planning for the future. Finally, I will argue that the original redefinition of Darwinism that modern synthesizers proposed is a significant historical example of how Darwinism has been used and adapted in different contexts. The lesson I draw from this account is a venerable one: that, whenever we wish to define Darwinism, we need to recognize not only its scientific content and achievements but expose the other traditions and ideologies it may have supported. (shrink)
We give an account of the appearance and first developments of the statistical model of atoms proposed by Thomas and Fermi, focusing on the main results achieved by Fermi and his group in Rome. Particular attention is addressed to the unknown contribution to this subject by Majorana, anticipating some important results reached later by leading physicists.
NCG 4.0 is the latest update of the Network of Cancer Genes, a web-based repository of systems-level properties of cancer genes. In its current version, the database collects information on 537 known (i.e. experimentally supported) and 1463 candidate (i.e. inferred using statistical methods) cancer genes. Candidate cancer genes derive from the manual revision of 67 original publications describing the mutational screening of 3460 human exomes and genomes in 23 different cancer types. For all 2000 cancer genes, duplicability, evolutionary origin, expression, (...) functional annotation, interaction network with other human proteins and with microRNAs are reported. In addition to providing a substantial update of cancer-related information, NCG 4.0 also introduces two new features. The first is the annotation of possible false-positive cancer drivers, defined as candidate cancer genes inferred from large-scale screenings whose association with cancer is likely to be spurious. The second is the description of the systems-level properties of 64 human microRNAs that are causally involved in cancer progression (oncomiRs). Owing to the manual revision of all information, NCG 4.0 constitutes a complete and reliable resource on human coding and non-coding genes whose deregulation drives cancer onset and/or progression. NCG 4.0 can also be downloaded as a free application for Android smart phones. (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.
This paper has three principal aims: first, through a detailed analysis of the hypotheses and assumptions underlying Weismann’s and Morgan’s disagreement on the nature of animal regeneration, it seeks to readdress the imbalance in coverage of their discussion, providing, at the same time, a fascinating case-study for those interested in general issues related to controversies in science. Second, contrary to Morgan’s beliefs according to which Weismann employed a speculative and unempirical method of scientific investigation, the article shows that Weismann performed (...) experiments, made observations and proposed ‘undogmatic’ theories open to refutation. Third, through the reconstruction of Weismann’s and Morgan’s disagreement, this study illustrates how biology, during the very late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was undergoing important changes. I argue that this controversy clearly and convincingly demonstrates how some important epistemic assumptions became increasingly problematic for some members of the younger generations of biologists. At the end of my discussion I will also argue that Weismann and Morgan both had strong well-grounded arguments supporting their conclusions; for this reason I suggest a few factors (“taken-for-granted” beliefs or assumptions) that could explain why their disagreement was doomed to remain unresolved. In particular, I will analyze their diverse explicative interests, their different theoretical concerns and their distinct use of the available evidence. (shrink)
A complete theoretical model describing artificial disintegration of nuclei by bombardment with α-particles, developed by Majorana as early as 1930, is discussed in detail jointly with the basic experimental evidences that motivated it. By following the quantum dynamics of a state resulting from the superposition of a discrete state with a continuum one, whose interaction is described by a given potential term, Majorana obtained (among the other predictions) the explicit expression for the integrated cross section of the nuclear process, which (...) is the directly measurable quantity of interest in the experiments. Although this is the first application of the concept of quasi-stationary states to a Nuclear Physics problem, it seems also that the unpublished Majorana work anticipates by several years the related seminal paper by Fano on Atomic Physics. (shrink)
After a quick historical account of the introduction of the group-theoretical description of quantum mechanics in terms of symmetries, as proposed by Weyl, we examine some unpublished papers by Ettore Majorana. Remarkable results achieved by him in frontier research topics as well as in physics teaching point out that the Italian physicist can be well considered as a follower of Weyl in his reformulation of quantum mechanics.
The two-electron atom is the simplest nontrivial quantum system not amenable to exact solutions. Today, its relevance in the development of quantum mechanics and its pedagogical value within the realm of atomic physics are widely recognized. In this work, an historical review of the known different methods and results devised to study such a problem is presented, with an emphasis to the calculations of the ground state energy of helium. Then we discuss several, related, unpublished results obtained around the same (...) years by Ettore Majorana, which remained unknown till recent times. Among them a general variant of the variational method appears to be particularly interesting, even for current research in atomic and nuclear physics: it takes directly into account, already in the trial wavefunction, the action of the full Hamiltonian operator of a given quantum system. Further relevant contributions, specialized to the two-electron problem, include the introduction of the remarkable concept of an effective nuclear charge different for the two electrons (thus generalizing previous known results) and an application of the perturbative method, where the atomic number Z was treated effectively as a continuous variable. Finally a survey of results, relevant mainly for pedagogical reasons, is given; in particular we focus on simple broad range estimates of the helium ionization potential, obtained by suitable choices for the wavefunction, as well as on a simple alternative to Hylleraas’ method, which led Majorana to first order calculations comparable in accuracy with well-known order 11 results derived, in turn, by Hylleraas. (shrink)
A pesar de su frecuente confusión, los paradigmas de totalitarismo y biopolítica resultan muy heterogéneos. Mientras el libro de Hannah Arendt, El origen del totalitarismo, todavía parece inscrito dentro del marco de la filosofía de la historia, aunque sea invertido y vuelto hacia el origen perdido (la polis griega), la categoría de biopolítica, tematizada a mitad de los años setenta por Michel Foucault, pero anticipada ya en la obra de Nietzsche, impide toda reconstrucción lineal de la relación entre pasado y (...) presente. La conexión directa entre política y vida biológica, que se establece desde un cierto punto de vista, altera radicalmente la filosofía política moderna y la aprehende desde un nuevo horizonte de sentido. Por otra parte, mientras Arendt, pese a la deconstrucción de la idea de ʻderechos humanosʼ, no elabora una verdadera crítica del derecho, Foucault discute explícitamente el nexo entre derecho individual y soberanía estatal. (shrink)
We give an accurate historical and scientific account of a practically unknown manuscript written by Ettore Majorana in French. The retrieved text deals with Quantum Electrodynamics by using the formalism of field quantization, and it is here reported, for the first time, in English translation. It is likely related to an invited talk for a conference at Leningrad (or Kharkov) in 1933 (or 1934) which, however, Majorana never attended. Probably this manuscript is one of the last missing papers of the (...) “Senatore folder”, given by Majorana to one student of his at the University of Naples in 1938, just before his disappearance. (shrink)