A partial translation of Agamben on Foucault

Just found a partial online translation of Agamben’s Il Regno e La Gloria at least apparently as far as he discusses Foucault.


New Protevi notes; cfp Philosophy of Life

Two quick items via the Continental Philosophy blog:

1. John Protevi is posting his course notes on Security, Territory, Population

2. A call for papers has been issued for a conference on the philosophy of life, including “life, power and politics (Foucault and Agamben).”

Both via CP.

Biopolitics, Terry Schiavo and the Sovereign Subject of Death

New paper: Biopolitics, Terry Schiavo and the Sovereign Subject of Death.
(doi: 10.1093/jmp/jhn029).

By Jeffrey P. Bishop.

Humanity does not gradually progress from combat to combat until it arrives at universal reciprocity, where the rule of law finally replaces warfare; humanity installs each of its violences in a system of rules and thus proceeds from domination to domination. (Foucault, 1984, 85)

In this essay, I take a note from Michel Foucault regarding the notion of biopolitics. For Foucault, biopolitics has both repressive and constitutive properties. Foucault’s claim is that with the rise of modern government, the state became exceedingly concerned about the body politic, the bodies that make up the polis, including the health of those bodies. However, Giorgio Agamben claims that Foucault and all western political philosophy misses the relationship between power and Sovereignty, with disastrous results and totalizing tendencies. I explore the case of Terri Schiavo claiming that the social conservatives have attempted to politicize bare life in its legal maneuverings, but I also show how the social liberals open an uncontrollable space between life and death. Both the left and the right miss the aporia at the heart of western political philosophy, and bioethics is complicit in the totalizing effects of contemporary medicine.

Keywords: bare life, biopolitics, Schiavo, sovereignty, sovereign power

Global war on liberty

Readers of this blog may be interested in this review in Telos of the Global War on Liberty, by the Belgian sociologist Jean-Claude Paye.


Belgian sociologist Jean-Claude Paye has collected several of his recent essays about the suspension of the rule of law, the emergence of a permanent state of exception, abuses of authority, and the generalized condition of restriction of freedom in Western societies since 9/11 in a single volume, La fin de l’état de droit, now translated, updated, and published by Telos Press under the title Global War on Liberty. [2] Paye’s essays over the past five to six years have positioned him as one of the leading critical voices of the post-9/11 era.

New Left Review article on the biopolitical

Writing in the New Left Review, Malcolm Bull compares the notion of biopolitics in Foucault (“as provocatively reformulated by Agamben”) and the “capabilities approach” of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and finds them somewhat incompatible.

Agamben’s work to me never seems as interesting or clear as Foucault’s, though of course YMMV.

(h/t Foucauldian reflections)

Dividing practices

Craig at Theoria notes:

While Foucault would have us cut off the king’s head in political theory, he wouldn’t have us do away with cutting as such – the process of making divisions is the content of Foucault’s contribution to political theory.

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Agamben lecture: Power and the Glory

Here is the new video going around of Giorgio Agamben’s January 2007 lecture “The Power and the Glory.”

Some analysis here:

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