In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it.
Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate.
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.
An ancient legend identifies Demon, Chance, Love, and Necessity as the four gods who preside over the birth of every human being. We must all pay tribute to these deities and should not try to elude or dupe them. To accept them, Giorgio Agamben suggests, is to live one's life as an adventure—not in the trivial sense of the term, with lightness and disenchantment, but with the understanding that adventure, as a specific way of being, is the most profound experience in our human existence. In this pithy, poetic, and compelling book, Agamben maps a journey from poems of chivalry to philosophy, from Yvain to Hegel, from Beatrice to Heidegger. The four gods of legend are joined at the end by a goddess, the most elusive and mysterious of all: Elpis, Hope. In Greek mythology, Hope remains in Pandora's box, not because it postpones its fulfillment to an invisible beyond but because somehow it has always been already satisfied. Here, Agamben presents Hope as the ultimate gift of the human adventure on Earth.
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 five essays collected here aim to deactivate this apparatus through a patient archaeological inquiry into the concepts of work, creation, and command. Giorgio Agamben explores every nuance of the arche in search of an an-archic exit strategy. By the book's final chapter, anarchy appears as the secret center of power, brought to light so as to make possible a philosophical thought that might overthrow both the principle and its command.
"Apparatus" (dispositif in French) is at once a most ubiquitous and nebulous concept in Foucault's later thought. In a text bearing the same name ("What is a dispositif?") Deleuze managed to contribute its mystification, but Agamben's leading essay illuminates the notion: "I will call an apparatus," he writes, "literally anything that has in some way the capacity to capture, orient, determine, intercept, model, control, or secure the gestures, behaviors, opinions, or discourses of living beings." Seen from this perspective, Agamben's work, like Foucault's, may be described as the identification and investigation of apparatuses, together with incessant attempts to find new ways to dismantle them.
Though philosophy contains the notion of philos, or friend, in its very name, philosophers tend to be very skeptical about friendship. In his second essay, Agamben tries to dispel this skepticism by showing that at the heart of friendship and philosophy, but also at the core of politics, lies the same experience: the shared sensation of being.
Guided by the question, "What does it mean to be contemporary?" Agamben begins the third essay with a reading of Nietzsche's philosophy and Mandelstam's poetry, proceeding from these to an exploration of such diverse fields as fashion, neurophysiology, messianism and astrophysics.