Politics, Metaphysics, and Death

Essays on Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sace

Politics, Metaphysics, and Death

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: Published: July 2005

Politics > Political Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Critical Theory

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben is having an increasingly significant impact on Anglo-American political theory. His most prominent intervention to date is the powerful reassessment of sovereignty and the politics of life and death laid out in his multivolume Homo Sacer project. Agamben argues that in both the modern world and the ancient, politics inevitably involves a sovereign decision that bans some individuals from the political and human communities. For Agamben, the Nazi concentration camps—in which some inmates are reduced to a form of living death—are not a political aberration but instead the place where this essential political decision about life most clearly reveals itself. Engaging specifically with Homo Sacer, the essays in this collection draw out and contend with the wide-ranging implications of Agamben’s radical and controversial interpretation of modern political life.

The contributors analyze Agamben’s thought from the perspectives of political theory, philosophy, jurisprudence, and the history of law. They consider his work not only in relation to that of his major interlocutors—Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, and Martin Heidegger—but also in relation to the thought of Plato, Pindar, Heraclitus, Descartes, Kafka, Bataille, and Derrida. The essayists’ approaches are varied, as are their ultimate evaluations of the cogency and accuracy of Agamben’s arguments. This volume also includes an original essay by Agamben in which he considers the relation of Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence” to Schmitt’s Political Theology. Politics, Metaphysics, and Death is a necessary, multifaceted exposition and evaluation of the thought of one of today’s most important political theorists.

Contributors: Giorgio Agamben, Andrew Benjamin, Peter Fitzpatrick, Anselm Haverkamp, Paul Hegarty, Andreas Kalyvas, Rainer Maria Kiesow , Catherine Mills, Andrew Norris, Adam Thurschwell, Erik Vogt, Thomas Carl Wall


“A critical English-language volume on [Agamben’s] work has then been long overdue and it is with great pleasure and interest that we welcome Andrew Norris’ Politics, Metaphysics, Death. . . . What truly recommends the volume is the contributors’ conscious decision to keep clear of the genre of textual exegesis with a view to throwing light on those historical, political, legal, ethical and philosophical contexts within which Agamben’s project (along with its limits) can be appreciated.” — Marios Constantinou and Maria Margaroni, Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Studies

Politics, Metaphysics, and Death provides the most lucid and penetrating accounts available of the political thought of Italy’s most influential philosopher. Agamben’s engagement with the complex entanglement of modernity and the tradition, the contributors to this volume show, cannot be ignored by anyone who would face up to the demands now placed by politics on political theory.” — Frederick M. Dolan, author of Allegories of America: Narratives, Metaphysics, Politics

“Andrew Norris and the contributors to this collection have not only performed extraordinary feats of textual exegesis but also produced a critical context and set of arguments with and concerning Agamben’s theory of sovereignty which will provide the starting point for all future study on his political thought.” — Thomas Dumm, author of A Politics of the Ordinary


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Andrew Norris is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgements vii

Introduction: Giorgio Agamben and the Politics of the Living Dead / Andrew Norris 1

Au Hasard / Thomas Carl Wall 31

Bare Sovereignty: Homo Sacer and the Insistence of Law / Peter Fitzpatrick

S/Citing the Camp / Erik Vogt 74

The Sovereign Weaver: Beyond the Camp / Andreas Kalyvas 107

Anagrammatics of Violence: The Benjaminian Ground of Homo Sacer / Anselm Haverkamp 135

Spaceing as the Shared: Heraclitus, Pindar, Agamben / Andrew Benjamin 145

Cutting the Branches of Akiba: Agamben’s Critique of Derrida / Adam Thurschwell 173

Linguistic Survival and Ethnicality: Biopolitics, Subjectivication, and Testimony in Remnants of Auschwitz / Catherine Mills 198

Supposing the Impossibility of Silence and of Sound, of Voice: Bataille, Agamben, and the Holocaust / Paul Hegarty 222

Law of Life / Rainer Maria Kiesow 248

The Exemplary Exception: Philosophical and Political Decisions in Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer / Andrew Norris 262

The State of Exception / Giorgio Agamben 284

Contributors 299

Index 301
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3537-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3525-2
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