Both Giorgio Agamben and Franz Kafka are best known for their gloomy political worldview. A cautious study of Agamben's references on Kafka, however, reveals another dimension right at the intersection of their works: a complex and unorthodox theory of freedom. The inspiration emerges from Agamben's claims that 'it is a very poor reading of Kafka's works that sees in them only a summation of the anguish of a guilty man before the inscrutable power'. Virtually all of Kafka's stories leave us puzzled about what really happened. Was Josef K., who is butchered like a dog, defeated? And what about the meaningless but in his own way complete creature Odradek? Agamben's work sheds new light on these questions and arrives, through Kafka, at different strategies for freedom at the point where this freedom is most blatantly violated.
With the publication of The Use of Bodies (2016), Agamben's multi-volume Homo Sacer project has come to an end, or to paraphrase Agamben, has been abandoned. We now have a new vantage point from which to reread Agamben's corpus; not only his method but his political and philosophical thought can been seen in a clearer light. This timely book both assesses and contributes to the debates on the Homo Sacer project in its entirety. Rethinking the notions of life and power – two of the central themes in Agamben's work – through a reconstruction of his philosophical method and an examination of his critique of Western metaphysics, this book argues that Agamben's thought cannot be fully grasped if we do not account for the intertwining of politics and ontology. This book argues that it is only by revisiting Agamben's critique of signification and metaphysics and examining his reconstruction of the archaeological method that we can understand his notions of life and power. By bringing together the two parts of the Homo Sacer project – the archaeology of the signature of Sovereignty and the archaeology of governmentality – this book provides an analysis of the production of Agambenian 'bare life'. In this sense this project re-articulates Agamben's works on signification, language and ontology with his archaeology of power. Offering an original examination of Agamben's notion of resistance, this is essential reading for any thoughtful consideration of his philosophical legacy.
In Faithful Doubt Guy Collins explores the role of doubt within theology and philosophy. Focusing on three philosophers--Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida, and Slavoj Žižek--Faithful Doubt argues that atheism can be redeeming. Far from being inhospitable to faith, doubt is increasingly necessary for theology. As well as introducing the thought of contemporary philosophers, Faithful Doubt examines the significance of popular entertainment and narrative. Novels of Ursula Le Guin, Neal Stephenson, China Mieville, and others are read alongside Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. Fiction highlights the fluid nature of the sacred and the secular. On the question of evil, Faithful Doubt suggests that wisdom lies in acknowledging uncertainty. Weaving the story of Job together with St. Augustine, Donald MacKinnon, and Eleonore Stump, evil exemplifies the necessity for doubt within theology. Faithful Doubt brings a new perspective to debates about the relationship between faith and reason. Concluding with a discussion of Soren Kierkegaard, Collins presents a compelling case for harnessing atheism and doubt in service to Christian faith. In order to "doubt wisely" we need to heed the "faith of the faithless."
This book asks why tax policy is both attracted to and repelled by the idea of justice. Accepting the invitation of economist Henry Simons to acknowledge that tax justice is a theological concept, the work explores theological doctrines of taxation to answer the presenting question. The overall message of the book is that taxation is an instrument of justice, but only when taxes take into account multiple goods in society: the requirements of the government, the property rights of society’s members, and the material needs of the poor. It is argued that this answer to the presenting question is a theological and ethical answer in that it derives from the insistence of Christian thinkers that tax policy take into account material human need (necessitas). Without the necessitas component of the tax balance, tax systems end up honoring only one of the three components of the tax equation and cease to reflect a coherent idea of justice. The book will be of interest to academics and researchers working in the areas of tax law, economics, theology, and history.
This the first dictionary dedicated to the work of Giorgio Agamben, the radical Italian philosopher. Bringing together leading scholars in the field, it provides a unique and comprehensive introduction to his work, offering readers a range of clear and c
Why has power in the West assumed the form of an "economy," that is, of a government of men and things? If power is essentially government, why does it need glory, that is, the ceremonial and liturgical apparatus that has always accompanied it? In the early centuries of the Church, in order to reconcile monotheism with God's threefold nature, the doctrine of Trinity was introduced in the guise of an economy of divine life. It was as if the Trinity amounted to nothing more than a problem of managing and governing the heavenly house and the world. Agamben shows that, when combined with the idea of providence, this theological-economic paradigm unexpectedly lies at the origin of many of the most important categories of modern politics, from the democratic theory of the division of powers to the strategic doctrine of collateral damage, from the invisible hand of Smith's liberalism to ideas of order and security. But the greatest novelty to emerge from The Kingdom and the Glory is that modern power is not only government but also glory, and that the ceremonial, liturgical, and acclamatory aspects that we have regarded as vestiges of the past actually constitute the basis of Western power. Through a fascinating analysis of liturgical acclamations and ceremonial symbols of power—the throne, the crown, purple cloth, the Fasces, and more—Agamben develops an original genealogy that illuminates the startling function of consent and of the media in modern democracies. With this book, the work begun with Homo Sacer reaches a decisive point, profoundly challenging and renewing our vision of politics.
Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote that "the people reign over the American political world like God over the universe," unwittingly casting democracy as the political instantiation of the death of God. According to Jeffrey W. Robbins, Tocqueville's assessment remains an apt observation of modern democratic power, which does not rest with a sovereign authority but operates as a diffuse social force. By linking radical democratic theory to a contemporary fascination with political theology, Robbins envisions the modern experience of democracy as a social, cultural, and political force transforming the nature of sovereign power and political authority. Robbins joins his work with Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's radical conception of "network power," as well as Sheldon Wolin's notion of "fugitive democracy," to fashion a political theology that captures modern democracy's social and cultural torment. This approach has profound implications not only for the nature of contemporary religious belief and practice but also for the reconceptualization of the proper relationship between religion and politics. Challenging the modern, liberal, and secular assumption of a neutral public space, Robbins conceives of a postsecular politics for contemporary society that inextricably links religion to the political. While effectively recasting the tradition of radical theology as a political theology, this book also develops a comprehensive critique of the political theology bequeathed by Carl Schmitt. It marks an original and visionary achievement by the scholar the Journal of the American Academy of Religion hailed "one of the best commentators on religion and postmodernism."
In the 1960s, the strict opposition between the religious and the secular began to break down, blurring the distinction between political philosophy and political theology. This collapse contributed to the decline of modern liberalism, which supported a neutral, value-free space for capitalism. It also deeply unsettled political, religious, and philosophical realms, forced to confront the conceptual stakes of a return to religion. Gamely intervening in a contest that defies simple resolutions, Clayton Crockett conceives of the postmodern convergence of the secular and the religious as a basis for emancipatory political thought. Engaging themes of sovereignty, democracy, potentiality, law, and event from a religious and political point of view, Crockett articulates a theological vision that responds to our contemporary world and its theo-political realities. Specifically, he claims we should think about God and the state in terms of potentiality rather than sovereign power. Deploying new concepts, such as Slavoj i ek's idea of parallax and Catherine Malabou's notion of plasticity, his argument engages with debates over the nature and status of religion, ideology, and messianism. Tangling with the work of Derrida, Deleuze, Spinoza, Antonio Negri, Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, John D. Caputo, and Catherine Keller, Crockett concludes with a reconsideration of democracy as a form of political thought and religious practice, underscoring its ties to modern liberal capitalism while also envisioning a more authentic democracy unconstrained by those ties.
Lieven Boeve contextualises Lyotard's writings and approach with reference to his theological thought. By focusing on issues such as the nature of the differend within language, the sublime experience and our (in)ability to witness to the breakdowns of language and representation, Lyotard's thought provokes theology to reconsider its own foundations. Taking up issues such as a highly relevant critique of capitalism, itself vital to today's understanding of Christian praxis in a global world, Lyotard offers us a perspective by which to re-evaluate Christianity beyond its being a hegemonic discourse as it moves toward being a discourse concerned with love. Through exploring the Christian narrative as an 'open' one, Boeve aims to make use of new possibilities for theology through a renewed comprehension of Lyotard's significance for today.
This collection of essays evaluates Agamben's work from a postcolonial perspective. Svirsky and Bignall assemble leading figures to explore the rich philosophical linkages and the political concerns shared by Agamben and postcolonial theory.
Criticism of Religion offers a spirited critical commentary on the engagements with religion and theology by a range of leading Marxist philosophers and critics: Lucien Goldmann, Fredric Jameson, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, Julia Kristeva, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, Georg Lukács, and Raymond Williams. Apart from offering sustained critique, the aim is to gather key insights from these critics in order to develop a comprehensive theory of religion. The book follows on the heels of the acclaimed Criticism of Heaven, being the second volume of a five volume series called Criticism of Heaven and Earth.
This book collects new contributions from an international group of leading scholars – including many who have worked closely with Agamben – to consider the impact of Agamben’s thought on research in the humanities and social sciences. Giorgio Agamben: Legal, Political and Philosophical Perspectives addresses the potential of Agamben’s thought by re-focusing attention away from his critiques of Western politics and towards his scheme for a political future. Part I of the book draws upon a wide range of issues such as legal oaths, legal reasoning and Christian conceptions of love in order to examine the potential for Agamben’s work to impact upon future legal scholarship. Part II focuses on political perspectives that include references to Marx, Rousseau and Agamben’s conception of the ‘messianic’. Theology, biology, and the thought of Gilles Deleuze, Walter Benjamin and Antonin Artaud are all drawn upon in Part III to explore philosophical perspectives in Agamben’s thought. This book demonstrates the importance and originality of Giorgio Agamben, who has articulated a vision of politics that must be recognised as an influential contribution to modern philosophical and political thinking. It is a book that will be of considerable interest to many working across the humanities and social sciences.
Joseph Acquisto examines literary writers and critical theorists who employ theological frameworks, but who divorce that framework from questions of belief and thereby remove the doctrine of salvation from their considerations. Acquisto claims that Baudelaire inaugurates a new kind of amodern modernity by canceling the notion of salvation in his writing while also refusing to embrace any of its secular equivalents, such as historical progress or redemption through art. Through a series of “interhistorical” readings that put literary and critical writers from the last 150 years in dialogue, Acquisto shows how these authors struggle to articulate both the metaphysical and esthetic consequences of attempting to move beyond a logic of salvation. Putting these writers into dialogue with Baudelaire highlights the way both literary and critical approaches attempt to articulate a third option between theism and atheism that also steers clear of political utopianism and Nietzschean estheticism. In the concluding section, Acquisto expands metaphysical and esthetic concerns to account also for the ethics inherent in the refusal of the logic of salvation, an ethics which emerges from, rather than seeking to redeem or cancel, a certain kind of nihilism.
What becomes of theology when we think of it aesthetically? What becomes of aesthetics when we think of it theologically? These are the guiding questions that inform both the method and the conclusions of this volume's exploration into the literary world of Herman Melville's "characteristic theology." Far from a specialist work that simply seeks to flesh out the religious disposition and myriad influences of one particular literary giant, Johnson's focus in this volume is instead the identification of a philosophically robust aesthetic conception of theology at its most politically and contemporarily relevant. By way of the Masquerade it sets in motion and in which it fully participates, from its beginning to its very end, this book uses Melville's fiction as vehicle for a radical aesthetic engagement with the theological bases of subjectivity and sovereignty. Through this exploration Johnson conceives the creatively duplicitous character of a materialistic theology whose aim is nothing less than the fashioning of a new heaven and a new earth.
This collection of essays, newly available in paperback, seeks to explore Agamben's work from philosophical and literary perspectives, thereby underpinning its place within larger debates in continental philosophy.
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.
Contemporary politics is faced, on the one hand, with political stagnation and lack of a progressive vision on the side of formal, institutional politics, and, on the other, with various social movements that venture to challenge modern understandings of representation, participation,and democracy. Interestingly, both institutional and anti-institutional sides of this antagonism tend to accuse each other of "nihilism", namely, of mere oppositional destructiveness and failure to offer a constructive, positive alternative to the status quo. Nihilism seems, then, all engulfing. In order to better understand this political situation and ourselves within it,The Politics of Nihilism proposes a thorough theoretical examination of the concept of nihilism and its historical development followed by critical studies of Israeli politics and culture. The authors show that, rather than a mark of mutual opposition and despair, nihilism is a fruitful category for tracing and exploring the limits of political critique, rendering them less rigid and opening up a space of potentiality for thought, action, and creation.
Cinema and Agamben brings together a group of established scholars of film and visual culture to explore the nexus between the moving image and the influential work of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. Including two original texts by Agamben himself, published here for the first time in English translation, these essays facilitate a unique multidisciplinary conversation that fundamentally rethinks the theory and praxis of cinema. In their resourceful analyses of the work of artists such as David Claerbout, Jean-Luc Godard, Philippe Grandrieux, Michael Haneke, Jean Rouch, and others, the authors put to use a range of key concepts from Agamben's rich body of work, like biopolitics, de-creation, gesture, potentiality and profanation. Sustaining the eminently interdisciplinary scope of Agamben's writing, the essays all bespeak the importance of Agamben's thought for forging new beginnings in film theory and for remedying the elegiac proclamations of the death of cinema so characteristic of the current moment.