We can no longer speak of a state of war in any traditional sense, yet there is currently no viable theory to account for the manifold internal conflicts, or civil wars, that increasingly afflict the world's populations. Meant as a first step toward such a theory, Giorgio Agamben's latest book looks at how civil war was conceived of at two crucial moments in the history of Western thought: in ancient Athens (from which the political concept of stasis emerges) and later, in the work of Thomas Hobbes. It identifies civil war as the fundamental threshold of politicization in the West, an apparatus that over the course of history has alternately allowed for the de-politicization of citizenship and the mobilization of the unpolitical. The arguments herein, first conceived of in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, have become ever more relevant now that we have entered the age of planetary civil war.
A first step toward a viable theory of the manifold internal conflicts that afflict the world's populations today, this book looks at how civil war was conceived of at two crucial moments in the history of Western thought, in ancient Athens (from which the political concept of "stasis" emerges) and later, in the work of Thomas Hobbes.
In this follow-up to The Kingdom and the Glory and The Highest Poverty, Agamben investigates the roots of our moral concept of duty in the theory and practice of Christian liturgy. Beginning with the New Testament and working through to late scholasticism and modern papal encyclicals, Agamben traces the Church's attempts to repeat Christ's unrepeatable sacrifice. Crucial here is the paradoxical figure of the priest, who becomes more and more a pure instrument of God's power, so that his own motives and character are entirely indifferent as long as he carries out his priestly duties. In modernity, Agamben argues, the Christian priest has become the model ethical subject. We see this above all in Kantian ethics. Contrasting the Christian and modern ontology of duty with the classical ontology of being, Agamben contends that Western philosophy has unfolded in the tension between the two. This latest installment in the study of Western political structures begun in Homo Sacer is a contribution to the study of liturgy, an extension of Nietzsche's genealogy of morals, and a reworking of Heidegger's history of Being.
For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government
Author: Giorgio Agamben
Publisher: Stanford University Press
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.
Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer was one of the seminal works of political philosophy in recent decades. It was also the beginning of a series of interconnected investigations of staggering ambition and scope, investigating the deepest foundations of Western politics and thought. The Use of Bodies represents the ninth and final volume in this twenty-year undertaking, breaking considerable new ground while clarifying the stakes and implications of the project as a whole. It comprises three major sections. The first uses Aristotle's discussion of slavery as a starting point for radically rethinking notions of selfhood; the second calls for a complete reworking of Western ontology; and the third explores the enigmatic concept of "form-of-life," which is in many ways the motivating force behind the entire Homo Sacer project. Interwoven between these major sections are shorter reflections on individual thinkers (Debord, Foucault, and Heidegger), while the epilogue pushes toward a new approach to political life that breaks with the destructive deadlocks of Western thought. The Use of Bodies represents a true masterwork by one of our greatest living philosophers.
Pontius Pilate is one of the most enigmatic figures in Christian theology. The only non-Christian to be named in the Nicene Creed, he is presented as a cruel colonial overseer in secular accounts, as a conflicted judge convinced of Jesus's innocence in the Gospels, and as either a pious Christian or a virtual demon in later Christian writings. This book takes Pilate's role in the trial of Jesus as a starting point for investigating the function of legal judgment in Western society and the ways that such judgment requires us to adjudicate the competing claims of the eternal and the historical. Coming just as Agamben is bringing his decades-long Homo Sacer project to an end, Pilate and Jesus sheds considerable light on what is at stake in that series as a whole. At the same time, it stands on its own, perhaps more than any of the author's recent works. It thus serves as a perfect starting place for readers who are curious about Agamben's approach but do not know where to begin.
The Byzantine Origins of the Contemporary Imaginary
Author: Marie-José Mondzain
Publisher: Stanford University Press
This book argues that the extraordinary force of the image in contemporary life?the contemporary imaginary?can be traced back to the Byzantine iconoclastic controversy of the eighth and ninth centuries.
Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer is one of the seminal works of political philosophy in recent decades. A twenty-year undertaking, this project is a series of interconnected investigations of staggering ambition and scope investigating the deepest foundations of every major Western institution and discourse. This single book brings together for the first time all nine volumes that make up this groundbreaking project. Each volume takes a seemingly obscure and outdated issue as its starting point—an enigmatic figure in Roman law, or medieval debates about God's management of creation, or theories about the origin of the oath—but is always guided by questions with urgent contemporary relevance. The Omnibus Homo Sacer includes: 1.Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life 2.1.State of Exception 2.2.Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm 2.3.The Sacrament of Language: An Archeology of the Oath 2.4.The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Glory 2.5.Opus Dei: An Archeology of Duty 3.Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive 4.1.The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life 4.2.The Use of Bodies
The emblem book was invented by the humanist lawyer Andrea Alciato in 1531. The preponderance of juridical and normative themes, of images of rule and infraction, of obedience and error in the emblem books is critical to their purpose and interest. This book outlines the history of the emblem tradition as a juridical genre, along with the concept of, and training in, obiter depicta, in things seen along the way to judgment. It argues that these books depict norms and abuses in classically derived forms that become the visual standards of governance. Despite the plethora of vivid figures and virtual symbols that define and transmit law, contemporary lawyers are not trained in the critical apprehension of the visible. This book is the first to reconstruct the history of the emblem tradition, evidencing the extent to which a gallery of images of law already exists and structuring how the public realm is displayed, made present and viewed.
Civil war has been a recurring feature of human societies throughout history - and an essential catalyst for major international conflict. And since 1945 the number of civil wars in the world has grown steadily, bringing devastation on a scale more traditionally associated with international wars. In spite of this, there is no classic treatise on civil war to compare with the classic works we have on war, revolution, or peace. On the one hand, historians have tended to treat the 'big' civil wars such as the American and the Spanish in isolation. On the other, social scientists have concentrated on identifying common patterns, without looking in too much detail at the specifics of any given conflict. Focusing on the numerous civil conflicts that have occurred throughout the world since the Second World War, Bill Kissane bridges this gap, asking what the recent social science literature adds to what we already know about civil war, but also how insights from the historical literature, from the ancient Greeks onwards, can help explain the violent experience of so many parts of the world since 1945. At its heart is the question of what makes the contemporary challenge posed by civil war so different to that of past periods - and what, if anything, is new about the contemporary experience of civil war at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Exile, the Polis, and Political Thought, C. 404-146 BC
Author: Benjamin Gray
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
This volume offers a history of the role of exile in the Greek city-state in the period c. 404-146 BC, from the end of the Peloponnesian War to the Roman conquest of the Greek world. It is structured thematically, considering in turn reintegration of exiles, laws on exile, expulsion through the courts, expulsion through civil war, and the identities and ideologies of exiles themselves.
Oaths play an essential part in the political and religious history of the West as a 'sacrament of power'. Yet despite numerous studies by linguists, anthropologists and historians of law and of religion, there exists no complete analysis of the oath which seeks to explain the strategic function that this phenomenon has performed at the intersection of law, religion and politics. The oath seems to define man himself as a political animal, but what is an oath and from where does it originate? Taking this question as its point of departure, Giorgio Agamben's book develops a pathbreaking 'archaeology' of the oath. Via a firsthand survey of Greek and Roman sources which shed light on the nexus of the oath with archaic legislation, acts of condemnation and the names of gods and blasphemy, Agamben recasts the birth of the oath as a decisive event of anthropogenesis, the process by which mankind became humanity. If the oath has historically constituted itself as a 'sacrament of power', it has functioned at one and the same time as a 'sacrament of language' - a sacrament in which man, discovering that he can speak, chooses to bind himself to his language and to use it to put life and destiny at stake.
Two months after the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration, in the midst of what it perceived to be a state of emergency, authorized the indefinite detention of noncitizens suspected of terrorist activities and their subsequent trials by a military commission. Here, distinguished Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben uses such circumstances to argue that this unusual extension of power, or "state of exception," has historically been an underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to transform democracies into totalitarian states. The sequel to Agamben's Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, State of Exception is the first book to theorize the state of exception in historical and philosophical context. In Agamben's view, the majority of legal scholars and policymakers in Europe as well as the United States have wrongly rejected the necessity of such a theory, claiming instead that the state of exception is a pragmatic question. Agamben argues here that the state of exception, which was meant to be a provisional measure, became in the course of the twentieth century a normal paradigm of government. Writing nothing less than the history of the state of exception in its various national contexts throughout Western Europe and the United States, Agamben uses the work of Carl Schmitt as a foil for his reflections as well as that of Derrida, Benjamin, and Arendt. In this highly topical book, Agamben ultimately arrives at original ideas about the future of democracy and casts a new light on the hidden relationship that ties law to violence.
What is an apparatus? was originally published in Italian in 2006 under the title: Che cos'è un dispositivo?; The friend was originally published in Italian in 2007 under the title: L'amico; and, What is the contemporary? was originally published in Italian in 2008 under the title: Che cos'è il contemporaneo
Situating Paul's texts in the context of early Jewish messianism, this book is part of a set of critiques devoted to the period when Judaism and Christianity were not fully distinct, placing Paul in the context of what has been called "Judaeo-Christianity." The exploration of messianism leads to the other figure discussed, Walter Benjamin.
What is the function of art in the era of digital globalization? How can one think of art institutions in an age defined by planetary civil war, growing inequality, and proprietary digital technology? The boundaries of such institutions have grown fuzzy. They extend from a region where the audience is pumped for tweets to a future of “neurocurating,” in which paintings surveil their audience via facial recognition and eye tracking to assess their popularity and to scan for suspicious activity. In Duty Free Art, filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl wonders how we can appreciate, or even make art, in the present age. What can we do when arms manufacturers sponsor museums, and some of the world’s most valuable artworks are used as currency in a global futures market detached from productive work? Can we distinguish between information, fake news, and the digital white noise that bombards our everyday lives? Exploring subjects as diverse as video games, WikiLeaks files, the proliferation of freeports, and political actions, she exposes the paradoxes within globalization, political economies, visual culture, and the status of art production.
After a century that has been described as the most violent in the history of humanity, Professor Richard Bessel has written an intelligent and fascinating book on the history of our violent world and how we have become obsessed about violence. He critiques the great themes of modern history from revolutionary upheavals around the globe, to the two world wars and the murder of the European Jews, to the great purges and, more recently, terrorism. Violence, it seems, is on everyone's mind. It constantly is in the news; it has given rise to an enormous historical, sociological, and philosophical literature; it occupies a prominent place in popular entertainment; and it is regarded as one of the fundamental problems affecting social, political and interpersonal relations. Bessel sheds light on this phenomenon and how our sensitivity towards violence has grown and has affected the ways in which we understand the world around us - in terms of religious faith, politics, military confrontation, the role of the state, as well as of interpersonal and intimate relations. He critiques our modern day relationship with violence and how despite its continuing and inevitable nature, we have become more committed to limiting and suppressing it. Both historically questioning and intensely evocative of the most vicious and brutal violence enacted by mankind, this book shows how the place of violence in the modern world presents a number of paradoxes and how it is an inescapable theme in human history.