Since he has been best known for this ongoing project, the volumes of which has been published out of order, and which include:. In the final volume of the series, Agamben intends to address "the concepts of forms-of-life and lifestyles. If human beings were or had to be this or that substance , this or that destiny, no ethical experience would be possible This does not mean, however, that humans are not, and do not have to be, something, that they are simply consigned to nothingness and therefore can freely decide whether to be or not to be, to adopt or not to adopt this or that destiny nihilism and decisionism coincide at this point.
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There is in effect something that humans are and have to be, but this is not an essence nor properly a thing: It is the simple fact of one's own existence as possibility or potentiality The reduction of life to 'biopolitics' is one of the main threads in Agamben's work, in his critical conception of a homo sacer , reduced to 'bare life', and thus deprived of any rights.
Where law is based on vague, unspecific concepts such as "race" or "good morals," law and the personal subjectivity of the judicial agent are no longer distinct. In the process of creating a state of exception these effects can compound. The individual can not only be deprived of their citizenship, but also of any form of agency over their own life. Within a state of exception, when a detainee is placed outside the law he is, according to Agamben, reduced to "bare life" in the eyes of the judicial powers.
Within the framework of a system that has deprived the individual of power, and their individual basic human freedoms, the hunger strike can be seen as a weapon or form of resistance. Its boundaries can represent any boundaries which are threatened or precarious. In the case of the hunger strike, the prisoners were threatened and endured force feeding not allowing them to die. In The Coming Community , published in Italian in and translated into English by longtime admirer Michael Hardt in , Agamben describes the social and political manifestation of his philosophical thought. Employing diverse short essays he describes the nature of "whatever singularity" as that which has an "inessential commonality, a solidarity that in no way concerns an essence".
It is important to note his understanding of "whatever" not as being indifference but based on the Latin "quodlibet ens"  translated as "being such that it always matters". Love is never directed toward this or that property of the loved one being blond, being small, being tender, being lame , but neither does it neglect the properties in favor of an insipid generality universal love : The lover wants the loved one with all of its predicates , its being such as it is. In the same sense, Agamben talks about "ease" as the "place" of love, or "rather love as the experience of taking-place in a whatever singularity", which resonates his use of the concept "use" in the later works.
Following the same trend, he employs, among others, the following to describe the "watershed of whatever":. Other themes addressed in The Coming Community include the commodification of the body, evil, and the messianic. The political task of humanity, he argues, is to expose the innate potential in this zone of indistinguishability. And although criticised as dreaming the impossible by certain authors,  he nonetheless shows a concrete example of whatever singularity acting politically:.
Whatever singularity, which wants to appropriate belonging itself, its own being-in-language, and thus rejects all identity and every condition of belonging, is the principal enemy of the State.
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Wherever these singularities peacefully demonstrate their being in common there will be Tiananmen, and, sooner or later, the tanks will appear. In his main work "Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life" , Giorgio Agamben analyzes an obscure  figure of Roman law that poses fundamental questions about the nature of law and power in general. Under the laws of the Roman Empire, a man who committed a certain kind of crime was banned from society and all of his rights as a citizen were revoked.
He thus became a " homo sacer " sacred man. In consequence, he could be killed by anybody, while his life on the other hand was deemed "sacred", so he could not be sacrificed in a ritual ceremony. Although Roman law no longer applied to someone deemed a Homo sacer , they remained "under the spell" of law. Agamben explains the latter idea as "human life Homo sacer was therefore excluded from law itself, while being included at the same time.
This figure is the exact mirror image of the sovereign basileus — a king, emperor, or president — who stands, on the one hand, within law so he can be condemned, e.
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Giorgio Agamben draws on Carl Schmitt 's definition of the Sovereign as the one who has the power to decide the state of exception or justitium , where law is indefinitely "suspended" without being abrogated. But if Schmitt's aim is to include the necessity of state of emergency under the rule of law, Agamben on the contrary demonstrates that all life cannot be subsumed by law.
As in Homo sacer , the state of emergency is the inclusion of life and necessity in the juridical order solely in the form of its exclusion.
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Agamben opines that laws have always assumed the authority to define "bare life" — zoe , as opposed to bios , that is 'qualified life' — by making this exclusive operation, while at the same time gaining power over it by making it the subject of political control. The power of law to actively separate "political" beings citizens from "bare life" bodies has carried on from Antiquity to Modernity — from, literally, Aristotle to Auschwitz.
Aristotle, as Agamben notes, constitutes political life via a simultaneous inclusion and exclusion of "bare life": as Aristotle says, man is an animal born to life Gk. Sovereignty, then, is conceived from ancient times as the power which determines what or who is to be incorporated into the political body in accord with its bios by means of the more originary exclusion or exception of what is to remain outside the political body—which is at the same time the source of that body's composition zoe.
Agamben would continue to expand the theory of the state of exception first introduced in "Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life" , ultimately leading to the "State of Exception" in Instead of leaving a space between law and life, the space where human action is possible, the space that used to constitute politics, he argues that politics has "contaminated itself with law" in the state of exception.
Because "only human action is able to cut the relationship between violence and law", it becomes increasingly difficult within the state of exception for humanity to act against the State. In this book, Giorgio Agamben traces the concept of ' state of exception ' Ausnahmezustand used by Carl Schmitt to Roman justitium and auctoritas. This leads him to a response to Carl Schmitt's definition of sovereignty as the power to proclaim the exception. Agamben's text State of Exception investigates the increase of power by governments which they employ in supposed times of crisis.
The concept of auctoritas played a key-role in fascism and Nazism , in particular concerning Carl Schmitt's theories, argues Agamben:. Thus, Agamben opposes Foucault's concept of " biopolitics " to right law , as he defines the state of exception, in Homo sacer , as the inclusion of life by right under the figure of ex-ception, which is simultaneously inclusion and exclusion. Following Walter Benjamin's lead, he explains that our task would be to radically differentiate "pure violence" from right, instead of tying them together, as did Carl Schmitt.
It is significative that modern specialists were so inclined to admit that auctoritas was inherent to the living person of the pater or the princeps.
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Agamben's thoughts on the state of emergency leads him to declare that the difference between dictatorship and democracy is thin indeed, as rule by decree became more and more common, starting from World War I and the reorganization of constitutional balance. Agamben often reminds that Hitler never abrogated the Weimar Constitution : he suspended it for the whole duration of the Third Reich with the Reichstag Fire Decree , issued on 28 February Indefinite suspension of law is what characterizes the state of exception.
In these kinds of camps, entire zones of exception are being formed: the state of exception becomes a status under which certain categories of people live, a capture of life by right. Sovereign law makes it possible to create entire areas in which the application of the law itself is held suspended, which is the basis of the Bush administration 's definition of an " enemy combatant". The English edition was translated by Adam Kotsko.
In this study of medieval monastic rules, Agamben offers a genealogical approach to several concepts that Ludwig Wittgenstein established in his late philosophy, primarily the Philosophical Investigations : rule-following , form-of-life , and the central importance of ' use ' for Wittgenstein: 'the meaning of a word is its use in language', and he uses 'language' not just to speak of word-language but any understandable behaviour. Agamben traces earlier versions of the term 'form-of-life' throughout the development of monastic life, beginning with the establishment of a genre of written rules in the fourth century.
In order to sketch out the potential of this concept, we would need 'a theory of use — of which Western philosophy lacks even the most elementary principles'. According to reviewer Nathan Schneider , " The Highest Poverty examines two medieval Christian attempts, in the name of eternal life, to live this life beyond the reach of ordinary politics: several centuries of monasticism, and then the brief and momentous epiphany in the movement founded by Francis of Assisi. Each, according to Agamben, fails in revealing ways.
Giorgio Agamben is particularly critical of the United States' response to 11 September , and its instrumentalization as a permanent condition that legitimizes a " state of exception " as the dominant paradigm for governing in contemporary politics. In January , he refused to give a lecture in the United States because under the US-VISIT he would have been required to give up his biometric information, which he believed stripped him to a state of "bare life" zoe and was akin to the tattooing that the Nazis did during World War II.
However, Agamben's criticisms target a broader scope than the US " war on terror ".
As he argues in State of Exception , rule by decree has become common since World War I in all modern states, and has been since then generalized and abused. Agamben points out a general tendency of modernity, recalling for example that when Francis Galton and Alphonse Bertillon invented "judicial photography" for " anthropometric identification", the procedure was reserved to criminals; to the contrary, today's society is tending toward a generalization of this procedure to all citizens, placing the population under permanent suspicion and surveillance : "The political body thus has become a criminal body".
And Agamben notes that the Jews deportation in France and other occupied countries was made possible by the photos taken from identity cards. Agamben's major books are listed in order of first Italian publication with the exception of Potentialities , which first appeared in English , and English translations are listed where available. There are translations of most writings in German, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Giorgio Agamben.
Rome , Italy. Philosophy portal. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Agamben prefers using this term as it underlines the structure of ex-ception , which is simultaneously of inclusion and exclusion.
I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance
In English transl. Greg Bird. Archived from the original on 12 August PDF available at Germanlawjournal. Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man? South Atlantic Quarterly , , 2—3 — Book Review. Translated by Adam Kotsko. The New Inquiry. Le Monde Diplomatique. Le Monde. Continental philosophy. Theodor W. Category Index.