Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction

Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction

Language: English

Pages: 488

ISBN: 0804761434

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.











philosophy. As we saw above, Agamben invoked “thought—that is, politics.” The equation might seem strange, but for Agamben this is precisely the reason it needs to be stressed. What this remark highlights is that the realm delimited by politics is as complex and indeterminate as that of philosophy. This does not mean that politics is anything and everything one might choose to bring under its heading; but it does mean that, for Agamben, there are aspects of our lives that are informed by

appear in that republic, he was to be paid the highest respects: he was to be anointed with myrrh, crowned, praised—and then led forth out of the city’s gates. This was not because Plato lacked sensitivity to, or respect for, art and its audiences. On the contrary, his prescriptions seem to have stemmed from his very sensitivity. Following ancient rumor, Plato found his philosophical vocation in the same fashion as Agamben—by renouncing an earlier, poetic one. It is said that one day the young

scheme, in opposition to elemental, inarticulate nature” (MWC, 95 [144], italics in original). “Understood from this perspective,” he continues, “Hölderlin’s sentence would mean that every work of art is a unique structure, and would therefore imply an interpretation of the original being of the work of art as ... structure” (translation modified). This equation leads Agamben to the conclusion that the mystery of artistic rhythm is the same as the mystery of artistic structure. “If this is true,”

modified). There is nothing surprising in this claim, but there is something surprising in the turn Agamben gives to it. He follows this commonsensical observation with something that seems to run contrary to commonsense: a plea for granting critical works the same “absence of demonstrable theses” accorded creative ones. Agamben’s reader must then ask why the author of a work of criticism would want it to be freed from such seemingly straightforward expectations. This question lies at the heart

to what, if anything, might be done remains open. 143 In response to such a diagnosis, a first question is what should we do? For his part, Benjamin did not lose himself in pessimistic predictions or liberal doses of self-pity, and he does not encourage his readers to turn their backs on a corrupted civilization and seek solace in primitive cultures or the bosom of nature. In response to the dissolution of traditional experience he asks a simple question: If this living continuity with the past

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