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141. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Theodore D. George Passive Resistance: Giorgio Agamben and the Bequest of Early German Romanticism and Hegel
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The purpose of this essay is to examine Giorgio Agamben’s important but underappreciated debts to the early German Romantics and to Hegel. While maintaining critical distance from these figures, Agamben develops crucial aspects of his approach to radical passivity with reference to them. The focus of this essay is on Agamben’s consideration of the early German Romantics’ notions of criticism and irony, Hegel’s notion of language, and the implications of this view of language for his notion of community.
142. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Omar Rivera Political Ontology (and Representative Politics), Agamben, Dussel . . . Subcomandante Marcos
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This paper articulates a ‘political ontology’ by orienting Agamben’s inquiries toward the autonomy of the constituting power. In relation to Agamben’s thought, it (1) clarifies it by drawing a categorical distinction between zōē and bare life, (2) departs from it by using Agamben’s analysis of potentiality to understand the paralysis of the constituting power and (3) develops it by unfolding the category of ‘exigency.’ The paper also sets into play a brief encounter between political ontology and representative politics (in Dussel).
143. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
María del Rosario Acosta López A “Tiny Displacement” of the World: On Giorgio Agamben’s Coming Community
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This paper explores the way in which Agamben takes part in the dialogue on “impolitical communities” that was inaugurated by J. L. Nancy and was soon followed by authors like M. Blanchot, J. Derrida and R. Esposito, among others. Although Agamben’s ontological exploration of ‘whatever being,’ followed later by the political idea of form-of-life, are still very close particularly to Nancy’s work, the article will show in which ways Agamben’s view of a political coming community explores different paths and moves in unusual registers, that help to understand in new ways the kind of inoperativeness involved in a contemporary rethinking of community. The notion of experience of thought as potentiality and its relationship to that “tiny displacement” of the world which Agamben seems to connect with his idea of a coming community will play a central role in the analysis.
144. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Alejandro A. Vallega Letter from the Guest Editor
145. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Benjamin S. Pryor On the “Perfect Time of Human Experience”: Agamben and Foucault
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This essay articulates a convergence between Foucault and Agamben: the possibility of an uncomplicated belonging to the profane, or to the perfect time of human experience. Agamben articulates a sense of experience as experience that “tears me from myself,” that points to a transformed conception of the world and a body and that connects his thinking to Foucault’s. This article places Agamben with Foucault outside of the alternative between messianism and pessimism. In the “perfect time of human experience,” in potentiality, possibility, and absolute immanence, Agamben finds a way of experiencing, a path along which philosophy has always wanted to step, one that I argue is taken in Foucault’s bio-politics.
146. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Jason Kemp Winfree No More Beautiful Days
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This paper aims to situate Agamben’s treatment of the issue of community. It shows how Agamben departs from and supplements the French discourse on community through a critique of negativity; how the significance of community is measured against the society of the spectacle; and how the alienation from our linguistic being, which the spectacle effects, conditions a politics opposed to the State apparatus. Agamben’s coming community appropriates the dispossession and impropriety of contemporary human being in order to reconfigure the relation of belonging and singularity.
147. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Walter Brogan On Giorgio Agamben’s Naked Life: The State of Exception and the Law of the Sovereign
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This article attempts to explore why it is that the “state of exception” is so pivotal to Agamben’s analysis of sovereignty and the possibility of a coming community beyond the sovereign state and its power machines. The essay distinguishes between two senses of the state of exception and tries to explain their interconnection. The “zone of indistinction” opens up an irreparable gap between sovereign power and its execution and between “bare life” and citizenship. These are the spaces that both drive and dismantle the apparatus of State power and permit Agamben to open the discussion of a coming community.
148. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Kalliopi Nikolopoulou Between Art and the Polis: Between Agamben and Plato
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In The Man Without Content, Giorgio Agamben makes a few but poignant references to Plato’s understanding of art. Because art’s impact was powerful, Plato deemed art dangerous and subordinated it to politics. In contrast, Agamben argues, modern art enjoys the privilege of formal autonomy at the cost of losing political significance. This essay develops the Platonic dimension in Agamben’s thought: whereas Platonic censorship recognizes art’s power by way of prohibition, the modern culturalist tolerance of art is symptomatic of art’s reduction into commodity and of the public indifference toward it.
149. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey A. Bernstein Child’s Play: Reflections on Agamben’s Conception of Contemporary Historical Exigency and its Winnicottian Dimension
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This article explores the influence of Winnicott’s conceptual constellation of early childhood, play, use, transitional phenomena, and transitional object upon Agamben’s thinking of contemporary historical exigency.
150. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Peg Birmingham The Subject of Rights: On the Declaration of the Human
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It is often pointed out that Agamben’s most profound disagreement with Hannah Arendt is his rejection of anything like a “right to have rights” that would guarantee the belonging to a political space. I want to suggest, however, that the subject of rights in Agamben’s thought is more complicated, arguing in this essay that Agamben’s critique is not with the concept of human rights per se, but with the declaration of modern rights. In other words, this essay will explore how Agamben’s analysis of language, especially vis-à-vis the figure standing outside the gates of the city, allows for rethinking the subject of rights. This analysis suggests that when thinking the notion of right, we must move from the declaration of right rooted in logos to the material dimension of language that makes such a declaration possible. Calling into question Aristotle’s claim that the human being is political because the human being is zoon logon echon, Agamben’s analysis shows that there is no place where the “I” can transform itself into speech. There is always a “non-place” of articulation that is not something outside the polis, but at the very heart of the polis itself. This non-place marks the exposure of the human as such. Following Agamben, I argue that human rights are not declared, but are exposed in our very appearance, our very being-manifest. I argue that our being-manifest provides for a new notion of human rights, rooted in the ontological condition of appearance that carries with it the right of exposure, without identity, to appear. In conclusion, I consider the relation of language and law in Agamben’s thought, asking whether Agamben’s critique of the juridical and his call for a politics without law preclude any resurrection of human rights?
151. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Alejandro A. Vallega Soglia: Negativity as a Philosophical Threshold
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Giorgio Agamben’s thought arises out of thinking through the concrete negativity or ungroundedness figured by “life” as understood under the sovereign exception. His work is sustained by the continuous exposure of philosophical concepts to what remains excluded, silenced, and to an extent unsayable for philosophy: Thus, disfiguring, decentering, and violating the temporality of Western history and philosophy as well as the concepts that order it. This means that Agamben thinks out of the ungrounded occurrences of language and history, and that the transformative potency of his thought arises from sheer negativity and yet, in his engagement of thought’s concrete situation.
152. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Eric C. Sanday Challenging the Established Order: Socrates’ Perversion of Callicles’ Position in Plato’s Gorgias
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In this article I argue that Socrates sees one important truth in the position Callicles represents in the Gorgias: it is necessary in the case of extreme philosophical provocation to be able to overthrow completely the received order and to maintain oneself in the face of unimagined possibility. Without this faith in the power of wisdom to overturn and destroy received wisdom, philosophy would not be able to shepherd the good into the world in Socratic fashion. Interpreters are generally correct to view Callicles as a threat to the Socratic ehtical position, but they generally fail to see that Socratic wisdom cannot operate without drawing substantially on the destruction of received order that Callicles promotes to a position of unique value in his competing ethical stance. Thus I read the conversation between Socrates and Callicles as an opportunity for Socrates to stand face to face with that aspect of his own philosophical wisdom that seems at first glance hostile to his own position.
153. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Matthew J. Smetona Marx’s Inferential Commitment to Hegel’s Idealism in the Grundrisse
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Recent studies have made the familiar observation that the economic categories in Marx’s works are presented in the dialectical form of the logical categories in Hegel’s works. The purpose of this article is to move beyond this observation by demonstrating that Marx’s appropriation of Hegel’s dialectical method articulated in the Science of Logic implicates, in opposition to his own explicit statements, the philosophical argument of his Grundrisse in an inferential commitment to Hegel’s idealism. Marx, it is argued, cannot appropriate Hegel’s conception of rational cognition as a dialectical movement from universality to particularity to individuality while at the same time dispensing with the absolute idealism from which that conception derives its coherence.
154. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Katharine Loevy Levinas and the Binding of Isaac
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The biblical story of the binding of Isaac may have originally been written without the figure of the angel. As such, it reads strongly as an account of Abraham disobeying God’s direct command for the sake of Isaac. Interestingly, then, many interpreters since the time of the text’s final redaction read the binding of Isaac as an account of ethical disobedience despite the presence of the angel. In what follows, I consider Levinas’s account of religion, revelation and ethics for the way in which this can impact our reading of the biblical text. In this way, I hope to develop an account of the binding of Isaac which becomes an allegory for the need to mediate all modes of religious and/or political allegiance with concern for the well-being of other people.
155. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Idit Dobbs-Weinstein A Praxis Oriented by the Debt to the Past: Benjamin’s and Adorno’s Critique of Teleology
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This paper explores Benjamin’s and Adorno’s materialist critique of the philosophy of history as a metaphysical fiction which harbors and shields the barbarism at the heart of culture. Each undertakes a radical critique of ontological, future-oriented notions of temporality and history, proposing instead a political understanding oriented to the past for the sake of the present or, more precisely, for the sake of actively resisting the persistent barbarism. The more culture insists on its progress beyond barbarism, the more it claims to have overcome the past, the more insidious and invidious are its forms of oppression. I follow the consequences of Benjamin’s emphasis on the nihilism constitutive of philosophy of history by analyzing his claim that even the dead are not safe from the threat of annihilation. Second, I argue that Adorno’s radical critique of a culture and politics oriented toward the future, or rather to overcoming the past, constitutes an active resistance to the insidious barbarism at the heart of democracy.
156. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Adriel Trott The Human Animal: The Natural and the Rational in Aristotle’s Anthropology
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I argue that the human being fits squarely within the natural world in Aristotle’s anthropology. Like other natural beings, we strive to fulfill our end from the potential within us to achieve that end. Logos does not make human beings unnatural but makes us responsible for our actualization. As rational, the human can never be reduced to mere living animal but is always already concerned with living well; yet, as natural, she is not separated from the animal world, a dangerous distinction which inevitably leaves some persons reduced to mere animality.
157. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Robert E. Wood Hegel: From Misunderstanding to the Beginning of Understanding
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Misunderstandings of Hegel have several roots: one is the intrinsic difficulty of his highly technical and interrelated conceptual sets, another is ideological opponents who consequently take statements out of context, and a third is following those of high stature who pass on the misunderstandings. Typical misunderstandings concern freedom and necessity, slavery, that status of the individual, God and the State, facts measuring up to concepts, the relation of rationality and actuality, the status of passion, and, above all, the nature of absolute knowing. Resituating these notions within the whole of the System shows the one-sidedness of typical misunderstandings and opens the way toward appropriation.
158. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Bryan Lueck Alterity in Merleau-Ponty’s Prose of the World
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I argue in this paper that Maurice Merleau-Ponty provides a compelling account of alterity in The Prose of the World. I begin by tracing this account of alterity back to its roots in Phenomenology of Perception. I then show how the dynamic of expression articulated in The Prose of the World overcomes the limitations of the account given in the earlier work. After addressing an objection to the effect that the account given in The Prose of the World fails for the same reason as the one given in Phenomenology of Perception, I argue that the key to Merleau-Ponty’s more successful account of alterity is provided by the phenomenon of orientation.
159. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Walter Brogan Letter from the Editor
160. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Marjolein Oele Heidegger’s Reading of Aristotle’s Concept of Pathos
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This paper takes as its point of departure the recent publication of Heidegger’s lecture course Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy and focuses upon Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle’s concept of pathos. Through a comparative analysis of Aristotle’s concept of pathos and Heidegger’s inventive reading of this concept, I aim to show the strengths and weaknesses of Heidegger’s reading. It is my thesis that Heidegger’s account is extremely rich and innovative as he frees up pathos from the narrow confines of psychology and incidental change and places it squarely into the center of the fundamental changes affecting a living being’s existence; simultaneously, however, Heidegger sometimes overstates the ties that pathos has with other concepts such as ousia and logos and highlights exceptional rather than common meanings of pathos, thereby risking the charge of being unfaithful to Aristotle’s text.