Giorgio Levi Della Vida (1886-1967) was not only an eminent Islamologist, he was also a man with solid roots in his own time. He taught in Naples and Rome, then for the ten years 1939-1948 at the University of Pennsylvania. He was one of the few university teachers who, when the oath of loyalty to the Italian fascist regime was introduced in October 1931, opted not to accept that act of submission. His memoirs, Fantasmi ritrovati, were published in 1966; (...) the book, now out of print, conjures up a tableau vivant of half a century of intellectual encounters in Italy and Europe between the wars. Among the portraits he paints there is the astounding story of those crucial days in June 1924 when the fascist government became a full-blown regime. This article presents extended extracts from that story. (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)
Semblanza de G. Tagliacozzo a través de las distintas voces que, desde su infancia hasta su muerte, lo llamaron en su vida: las primeras vocaciones de grandeza , las voces de la academia , la voz de América , la impelente voz de Vico , la voz de los caminos que la naturaleza recorre .Semblance of G. Tagliacozzo through the voices that he followed from his younger age to his death: the first calls for greatness , the voices of academy (...) , the voice of America , the impelling voice of Vico , and the voice of the ways that nature runs. (shrink)
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)
The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has always been an original reader of texts, understanding their many rich and multiple historical, aesthetic, and political meanings and effects. In Profanations, Agamben has assembled for the first time some of his most pivotal essays on photography, the novel, and film. A meditation on memory and oblivion, on what is lost and what remains, Profanations proves yet again that Agamben is one of the most provocative writers of our time. In ten essays, Agamben (...) ponders a series of literary and philosophical problems: the relation among genius, ego, and theories of subjectivity; the problem of messianic time as explicated in both images and lived experience; parody as a literary paradigm; and the potential of magic to provide an ethical canon. The range of topics and themes addressed here attest to the creativity of Agamben's singular mode of thought and his persistent concern with the act of witnessing, sometimes futile, sometimes earth-shattering: the talking cricket in Pinocchio; "helpers" in Kafka's novels; pictorial representations of the Last Judgment, of anonymous female faces, and of "Rosebud," the infamous object of obsession in Citizen Kane. "In Praise of Profanity," the central essay of this small but dense book, confronts the question of profanity as the crucial political task of the moment. An act of resistance to every form of separation, the concept of profanation reorients perceptions of how power, consumption, and use interweave to produce an urgent political modality and desire: to profane the unprofanable. Agamben not only provides a new and potent theoretical model but describes it with a writerly style that itself forges inescapable links among literature, politics, and philosophy.Giorgio Agamben is Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Venice. His many publications include Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive, The Coming Community, and State of Exception. (shrink)
Giorgio Agamben is a philosopher well known for his brilliance and erudition, as well as for the difficulty and diversity of his seventeen books. The interest which his _Homo Sacer_ sparked in America is likely to continue to grow for a great many years to come. _Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction_ presents the complexity and continuity of Agamben's philosophy—and does so for two separate and distinct audiences. It attempts to provide readers possessing little or no familiarity with Agamben's writings (...) with points of entry for exploring them. For those already well acquainted with Agamben's thought, it offers a critical analysis of the achievements that have marked it. (shrink)
Arguing that Western power is both "government" and "glory," this book reveals the "theological-economic" paradigm at the origin of several of the most important components of modern politics and illuminates the function of consent and the ...
He proposes, in his characteristically allusive and intriguing way, a politics of gestureOCoa politics of means without end.Among the topics Agamben takes up are the properly political paradigms of experience, as well as those generally not ...
What is a rule, if it appears to become confused with life? And what is a human life, if, in every one of its gestures, of its words, and of its silences, it cannot be distinguished from the rule? It is to these questions that Agamben's new book turns by means of an impassioned reading of the fascinating and massive phenomenon of Western monasticism from Pachomius to St. Francis. The book reconstructs in detail the life of the monks with their (...) obsessive attention to temporal articulation and to the Rule, to ascetic techniques and to liturgy. But Agamben's thesis is that the true novelty of monasticism lies not in the confusion between life and norm, but in the discovery of a new dimension, in which "life" as such, perhaps for the first time, is affirmed in its autonomy, and in which the claim of the "highest poverty" and "use" challenges the law in ways that we must still grapple with today. How can we think a form-of-life, that is, a human life released from the grip of law, and a use of bodies and of the world that never becomes an appropriation? How can we think life as something not subject to ownership but only for common use? (shrink)
Predicates such as tall or to know Latin, which intuitively denote permanent properties, are called individual-level predicates. Many peculiar properties of this class of predicates have been noted in the literature. One such property is that we cannot say #John is sometimes tall. Here is a way to account for this property: this sentence sounds odd because it triggers the scalar implicature that the alternative John is always tall is false, which cannot be, given that, if John is sometimes tall, (...) then he always is. This intuition faces two challenges. First: this scalar implicature has a weird nature, since it must be surprisingly robust (otherwise, it could be cancelled and the sentence rescued) and furthermore blind to the common knowledge that tallness is a permanent property (since this piece of common knowledge makes the two alternatives equivalent). Second: it is not clear how this intuition could be extended to other, more complicated properties of individual-level predicates. The goal of this paper is to defend the idea of an implicature-based theory of individual-level predicates by facing these two challenges. In the first part of the paper, I try to make sense of the weird nature of these special mismatching implicatures within the recent grammatical framework for scalar implicatures of Chierchia (Structures and beyond, 2004) and Fox (2007). In the second part of the paper, I show how this implicature-based line of reasoning can be extended to more complicated properties of individual-level predicates, such as restrictions on the interpretation of their bare plural subjects, noted in Carlson (Reference to kinds in English. Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1977), Milsark (Linguistic Analysis 3.1: 1–29, 1977), and Fox (Natural Language Semantics 3: 283–341, 1995); restrictions on German word order, noted in Diesing (Indefinites, 1992); and restrictions on Q-adverbs, noted in Kratzer (The Generic Book, ed. Carlson and Pelletier, 125–175, 1995). (shrink)
Parthood and composition are everywhere. The leg of a table is part of the table, the word "Christmas" is part of the sentence "I wish you a merry Christmas", the 13th century is part of the Middle Ages. The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg compose Benelux, the body of a deer is composed of a huge number of cells, the Middle Ages are composed of the Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, and Late Middle Ages. Is there really a general theory (...) covering every instance of parthood and composition? Is classical mereology this general theory? Are its seemingly counter-intuitive features serious defects? -/- Mereology: A Philosophical Introduction addresses the multifaceted and lively philosophical debates surrounding these questions, and defends the idea that classical mereology is indeed the general and exhaustive theory of parthood and composition in the domain of concrete entities. -/- Several examples of parthood and composition, involving entities of different kinds, are scrutinised in depth. Incidentally, mereology is shown to interact in a surprising way with metaontology. Presenting a well-organized and comprehensive discussion of parthood and related notions, Mereology: A Philosophical Introduction contributes to a better understanding of a subject central to contemporary metaphysics. (shrink)
The article takes Giorgio Agamben’s declaration of his optimism with regard to the possibilities of global political transformation as a point of departure for the inquiry into the affirmative aspects of Agamben’s political thought, frequently overshadowed by his more famous critical claims. We reconstitute three principles grounding Agamben’s optimism that pertain respectively to the total crisis of the contemporary biopolitical apparatuses, the possibility of a radically different form-of-life on the basis of their residue and the minimalist character of this (...) transformation that consists entirely in the subtraction of existence from these apparatuses. While the first two principles are unproblematic in the wider context of Agamben’s work, the third principle introduces the problematic of will that remains highly ambiguous in his philosophy. In the remainder of the article we address this ambiguity in an analysis of Agamben’s reading of Melville’s ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ and conclude that Agamben’s optimism ultimately consists in the affirmation of absolute contingency, beyond both will and necessity. (shrink)
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.
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)
La question de la méthode est ici abordée à partir d’une réflexion sur trois concepts : le paradigme, la signature, l’archéologie. L’analyse du paradigme permet de dessiner les lignes essentielles d’un chapitre qui fait défaut dans l’histoire de la logique occidentale – la théorie de l’exemple et de l’analogie. Sur les traces des traités de l’âge baroque et de la Renaissance de signatura rerum, le deuxième volet définit la signature comme « signe dans le signe », qui joue un rôle (...) décisif dans l’interprétation des signes, de la théorie médiévale des sacrements à Benveniste, de la doctrine des transcendantaux à Warburg et à Freud. Le troisième, enfin, poursuit les analyses de Foucault sur la relation entre archéologie et histoire et pose un concept d’origine qui ne reste pas isolé dans le passé, mais qui, comme les mots indo-européens en grammaire comparée ou l’enfant en psychanalyse, ne cesse d’agir dans le présent pour le rendre intelligible. L’entrelacs de ces trois noeuds problématiques ouvre l’espace d’un court traité sur la méthode, question première et ultime pour tout travail en philosophie et en sciences humaines. (shrink)
Why Agamben? -- Key ideas -- Language and the negativity of being -- Infancy and archaeological method -- Potentiality and the task of the coming philosophy -- Politics : bare life and sovereign power -- The homeland of gesture : art and cinema -- The laboratory of literature -- Bearing witness and messianic time -- After Agamben.
"Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" -/- In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy (...) Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it. -/- Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate. (shrink)
Recent evidence in natural and semi-natural settings has revealed a variety of left-right perceptual asymmetries among vertebrates. These include preferential use of the left or right visual hemifield during activities such as searching for food, agonistic responses, or escape from predators in animals as different as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. There are obvious disadvantages in showing such directional asymmetries because relevant stimuli may be located to the animal's left or right at random; there is no a priori association (...) between the meaning of a stimulus (e.g., its being a predator or a food item) and its being located to the animal's left or right. Moreover, other organisms (e.g., predators) could exploit the predictability of behavior that arises from population-level lateral biases. It might be argued that lateralization of function enhances cognitive capacity and efficiency of the brain, thus counteracting the ecological disadvantages of lateral biases in behavior. However, such an increase in brain efficiency could be obtained by each individual being lateralized without any need to align the direction of the asymmetry in the majority of the individuals of the population. Here we argue that the alignment of the direction of behavioral asymmetries at the population level arises as an “evolutionarily stable strategy” under “social” pressures occurring when individually asymmetrical organisms must coordinate their behavior with the behavior of other asymmetrical organisms of the same or different species. Key Words: asymmetry; brain evolution; brain lateralization; development; hemispheric specialization; laterality; lateralization of behavior; social behavior; theory of games. (shrink)
In this article, the author rethinks critiques of the learning society using Giorgio Agamben’s theory of potentiality. Summarizing several major contributions to our understanding of the limitations of the discourse of learning, the author proposes that critics thus far have failed to fully pinpoint the exact danger of learning. Importantly, learning is not only a rejection of the democratic or political dimension of education but it is first and foremost predicated on a false ontology of potentiality. What is put (...) at risk in learning is a sacrifice of our (im)potential, our capacity to be or not to be this or that within the order of things. Through a reconstruction of Agamben’s theory of studying, the author argues for a different conceptualization of freedom in education, of teaching, and of the time of education. (shrink)
_Giorgio Agamben: Power, Law and the Uses of Criticism_ is a thorough engagement with the thought of the influential Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. It explores Agamben’s work on language, ontology, power, law and criticism from the 1970s to his most recent publications. Introducing Agamben's work to a readership in legal theory, as well as in the humanities and social sciences more generally, Thanos Zartaloudis argues that an adequate understanding of Agamben's Homo Sacer project requires an attention to his earlier (...) philosophical writings on language, ontology, power and time. It is through this attentive and creative analysis of Agamben's work that Zartaloudis here presents a rethinking of the ideas of justice and criticism. (shrink)
Various kinds of observations show that the ability of human beings to both consciously relive past events – episodic memory – and conceive future events, entails an active process of construction. This construction process also underpins many other important aspects of conscious human life, such as perceptions, language and conscious thinking. This article provides an explanation of what makes the constructive process possible and how it works. The process mainly relies on attentional activity, which has a discrete and periodic nature, (...) and working memory, which allows for the combination of discrete attentional operations. An explanation is also provided of how past and future events are constructed. (shrink)