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ISBN: 978-0-7456-5311-2
224 pages
February 2016, Polity
Agamben (0745653111) cover image


Until recently, "continental" philosophy has been tied either to the German tradition of phenomenology or to French post-structuralist concerns with the conditions of language and textuality. Giorgio Agamben draws upon and departs from both these lines of thought by directing his entire corpus to the problem of life - political life, human life, animal life, and the life of art. Influenced by the work of Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, and the broader tradition of critical Marxism, Agamben's work poses the profound question for our time - just how exceptional are human beings?

This beautifully written book provides a systematic, engaging overview of Agamben's writings on theology, aesthetics, political theory, and sovereignty. Covering the full range of Agamben's work to date, Claire Colebrook and Jason Maxwell explain Agamben's theology and philosophy by referring the concepts to some of today's most urgent political and ethical problems. They focus on the audacious way in which Agamben reconceptualizes life itself. Assessing the significance of the concepts key to his work, such as biopolitics, sovereignty, the "state of exception," and "bare life," they demonstrate his wide-ranging influence across the humanities.

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Language
  • Chapter 2: Sovereignty, State of Exception and Biopolitics
  • Chapter 3: Homo Sacer, Sacred Life and Bare Life
  • Chapter 4: New Ethics, New Politics
  • Chapter 5: Politics Beyond Good and Evil
  • Chapter 6: Power Beyond Recognition
  • Chapter 7: Indifference
  • Conclusion
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    Author Information

    Claire Colebrook is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Penn State University

    Jason Maxwell teaches and researches at Penn State University
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