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About the Author

Giorgio Agamben is a contemporary Italian philosopher and political theorist whose original works have gained critical acclaim and have been translated into numerous Languages. His most recent books are Creation and Anarchy: The Work or Art and the Religion of Capitalism and What Is Real? Agamben show more is a frequent contributor to numerous international newspapers and other media. show less
Image credit: From the European Graduate School website.


Works by Giorgio Agamben

State of Exception (2003) 618 copies
The Open: Man and Animal (2002) 348 copies
The Coming Community (1990) 303 copies
The Man Without Content (1994) 195 copies
Profanations (2005) 190 copies
Nudities (2009) 114 copies
Democracy in What State? (2009) 99 copies
The Use of Bodies (2014) 90 copies
The Church and the Kingdom (2010) 68 copies
The Omnibus Homo Sacer (2016) 53 copies
Ninfe (2005) 49 copies
Taste (2014) 46 copies
The adventure (2015) 45 copies
What Is Philosophy? (2014) 42 copies
Studiolo (2019) 14 copies
L'amico (2007) 13 copies
Genius (2004) 10 copies
Autoritratto nello studio (1905) 8 copies
Angeli, ebraismo, cristianesimo, islam (2009) — Editor — 7 copies
Teologia y Lenguaje (2012) 6 copies
Intellect d'amour (2018) 4 copies
Le voyage initiatique (2011) 3 copies
Giorgio Agamben (2011) 2 copies
Gianni Dessi 2 copies
Smak (2020) 2 copies
AVENTURA, LA (2014) 2 copies
O Amigo 1 copy
Estado de Excepcao (2010) 1 copy
Leviathans Rätsel (2014) 1 copy
Istisna Hali (2018) 1 copy
Heidegger i nazizm (2018) 1 copy
Dunyevilestirmeler (2012) 1 copy
Log 53: Why Italy Now? (2021) 1 copy
Esejas (2020) 1 copy

Associated Works

Releasing the Image: From Literature to New Media (2011) — Contributor — 22 copies
The Ancients and the Moderns (1996) — Contributor — 7 copies
I Turcs tal Friùl (I Turchi in Friuli) (2019) — Foreword, some editions — 4 copies
デリダと肯定の思考 (2007) — Contributor — 2 copies


Common Knowledge



This slim volume is reliant on the lines of thought explored previously by Agamben in The Sacrament of Language and The Kingdom and the Glory, although it might be approachable on its own by a generally well-read and determined reader. I found it slow going, requiring as much as five minutes per page.

The first chapter is on "Liturgy and Politics," but mostly liturgy. It focuses on the emergence and development of a distinction between opus operans and opus operatum in sacramental activity. Only at the very end does Agamben remark that he considers this instrument for the "effectiveness of the cult" to be a "theological model ... which has made a lasting mark on praxis in the Marxist tradition" (26).

The first part of Chapter 2 "From Mystery to Effect" should be read in dialogue with Drudgery Divine by Jonathan Z. Smith. It is somewhat amusing that Agamben should take the side of the (anti-pagan) Protestants in the relevant questions about Christian liturgical origins, while Smith assails it. "Effect" is concerned with the "transformation of being into operativity" that results from the "ontological-practical paradigm ... of effectiveness" (63) which Agamben identifies with sacerdotal mystery.

The third chapter offers "A Genealogy of Office," which begins to focus on the historically articulated nature of ministry as a duty and a function. This interesting study culminates in a declaration that "[T]he priesthood, of which the character is the cipher, is not a real predicate but a pure signature, which manifests only the constitutive excess of effectiveness over being" (87). (There is also an interesting mention of Varro's three modalities agere, facere, and gerere, which seem to correspond to the offices of Cancellarius, Praemonstrator, and Imperator, respectively. 82)

"The Two Ontologies" of the fourth chapter are the philosophical-scientific and the religious-juridical. The former is characterized by the indicative mood and the latter by the imperative. Agamben illustrates various ways in which these two oppose one another and yet have become intertwined and reliant upon one another, with the tendency to privilege the religious-juridical under the cover of the philosophical-scientific reaching an acme in the 18th century. His account here makes solid sense out of Kant, and it almost re-interested me in Heidegger. The alignment of liturgy and ethics is witnessed through the concept of pious "devotion." Agamben writes, "Theologians never lost awareness of the pagan origin of devotio, with which the commander consecrated his own life to the infernal gods in order to obtain victory in a battle" (103).

The close of the book offers a discussion of the metaphysics of will, which arrives at remarks perfectly congruent with Beyond Good and Evil section 19, although Agamben never cites Nietzsche in the whole book. And then I was perplexed to read the final sentence, for which he never seemed to have supplied the motivation: "The problem of the coming philosophy is that of thinking an ontology beyond operativity and command and an ethics and a politics entirely liberated from the concepts of duty and will." As usual, Agamben gives me useful insights and leaves me scratching my head.
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paradoxosalpha | Sep 15, 2023 |
luvucenanzo06 | Sep 7, 2023 |
1. Agamben points out the gaps in the Biopolitique's question of life, focusing on the potential dangers that Stato di eccezione (state of exception) reveals for all: The "state of exception" in which the law is suspended re-emerges as the sovereign of life management, and even the opposite of totalitarian management shares a set of methods with the "enemy." Suspension (Iustitium) is not to abolish the law, but to remove the restrictions imposed by the law on the sovereign itself, through the "interpretation of power" to enhance the sovereign's freedom of governance measures. The creation intention of the "state of exception" is to destroy itself in the future, and in the process of its function, it has completed the promotion of real power in secret.

2. Agamben points out the antagonism between Benjamin's (Messianic concept) and Schmidt's (sovereign theory) views on "the relationship between law and the 'state of exception'", and in contrast to Schmidt, who is indifferent to the fact that bare life cannot be redeemed, Agamben chooses to take Benjamin's position. Thus Agamben obtained a new way of interpreting the "messianic concept" - "messianic katargēsis of law"
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Maristot | 4 other reviews | Jul 29, 2023 |
The concept of Homo Sacer, taken from the ancient Roman code, is a marginal existence excluded by both divine law and human law.

Through the allusion of homo sacer, Agamben reinterprets the paradox of "Biopolitique" in modern society and its historical origin (continuing on the basis of Foucault's "Biopolitique"). Before the introduction of "Homo Sacer", Agamben made an important classification of life management -- formal life (bios) and naked life (zoe). The combination of zoe and bios is that zoe in the private domain is pulled into the public domain and thus managed by the modern ruling body. Agamben introduced the concept of "homo sacer", which is special in that it is included in the city state in an excluded form, reflecting the most complete form of naked life, and the construction of the social normality that Foucault worried about can be traced back to a long time ago.

One of the most peculiar points of Agamben's argument: There is an inescapable dilemma in modern society, another aspect of the management of life can be eliminated for the same reason, and democracy, which is divided into the opposite of totalitarianism, is also in fact in the logic of the management of life with the enemy, especially through the suspension of the law by the "state of exception", the sovereign with the right to dispose of life and death will re-emerge. This is the most important addition to Foucault's argument.
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Maristot | 8 other reviews | Jul 29, 2023 |



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