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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 16, Issue 1, Fall 2011

Giorgio Agamben

Kalliopi Nikolopoulou
Pages 17-36

Between Art and the Polis
Between Agamben and Plato

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.