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Homo Sacer : Sovereign Power and Bare Life



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Stanford Univ Pr
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The work of Giorgio Agamben, one of Italy's most important and original philosophers, has been based on an uncommon erudition in classical traditions of philosophy and rhetoric, the grammarians of late antiquity, Christian theology, and modern philosophy. Recently, Agamben has begun to direct his thinking to the constitution of the social and to some concrete, ethico-political conclusions concerning the state of society today, and the place of the individual within it. In Homo Sacer, Agamben aims to connect the problem of pure possibility, potentiality, and power with the problem of political and social ethics in a context where the latter has lost its previous religious, metaphysical, and cultural grounding. Taking his cue from Foucault's fragmentary analysis of biopolitics, Agamben probes with great breadth, intensity, and acuteness the covert or implicit presence of an idea of biopolitics in the history of traditional political theory. He argues that from the earliest treatises of political theory, notably in Aristotle's notion of man as a political animal, and throughout the history of Western thinking about sovereignty (whether of the king or the state), a notion of sovereignty as power over "life" is implicit. The reason it remains merely implicit has to do, according to Agamben, with the way the sacred, or the idea of sacrality, becomes indissociable from the idea of sovereignty. Drawing upon Carl Schmitt's idea of the sovereign's status as the exception to the rules he safeguards, and on anthropological research that reveals the close interlinking of the sacred and the taboo, Agamben defines the sacred person as one who can be killed and yet not sacrificeda paradox he sees as operative in the status of the modern individual living in a system that exerts control over the collective "naked life" of all individuals.

Author Biography

Giorgio Agamben teaches philosophy at the University of Verona.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
The Logic of Sovereigntyp. 13
The Paradox of Sovereigntyp. 15
Nomos Basileus'p. 30
Potentiality and Lawp. 39
Form of Lawp. 49
? Thresholdp. 63
Homo Sacerp. 69
Homo Sacerp. 71
The Ambivalence of the Sacredp. 75
Sacred Lifep. 81
'Vitae Necisque Potestas'p. 87
Sovereign Body and Sacred Bodyp. 91
The Ban and the Wolfp. 104
? Thresholdp. 112
The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the Modernp. 117
The Politicization of Lifep. 119
Biopolitics and the Rights of Manp. 126
Life That Does Not Deserve to Livep. 136
'Politics, or Giving Form to the Life of a People'p. 144
VPp. 154
Politicizing Deathp. 160
The Camp as the 'Nomos' of the Modernp. 166
? Thresholdp. 181
Bibliographyp. 189
Index of Namesp. 197
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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