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Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)

by , (Stanford University Press)

(138 reviews)

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In this major work by the renowned Italian philosopher, an obscure figure in Roman law poses significant questions about the nature of power.

The work of Giorgio Agamben, one of Italy's most important and original philosophers, challenges modern conceptions of society and the individual's place 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 time when they have lost their fundamental religious, metaphysical, and cultural grounding.

Taking his cue from Foucault, Agamben probes the covert presence of biopolitics in the history of traditional political theory. He argues that Wester thought on politics has always featured an implicit notion of sovereignty as power over "life". The reason it remains merely implicit has to do, according to Agamben, with the way the sacred becomes indissociable from the idea of sovereignty.

Agamben draws on Carl Schmitt's conception of sovereign status, as well as anthropological research revealing the link between the sacred and the taboo, Agamben defines the sacred person as one who can be killed and yet not sacrificed. He demonstrates how this paradox operates in the status of the modern individual living in a system that exerts control over the collective "naked life" of all individuals.

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Additional Info

  • Publication Date: April 1, 1998
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Disabled
  • Print Length: 228 Pages
  • File Size: 14,589 KB

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