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Philosophy Today

Volume 65, Issue 3, Summer 2021

Special Topic: Technology and Society

Malte Fabian Rauch
Pages 619-636

An-arche and Indifference
Between Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida, and Reiner Schürmann

This essay explores Giorgio Agamben’s engagement with Reiner Schürmann, focusing in particular on their ontological understanding of anarchy. Setting out from the lacuna in the literature on this issue, it gives a close reading of the passages where Agamben addresses Schürmann, interrogates the role of of arche in Agamben’s works and links his interest in Schürmann to his long-standing critique of Derrida. Tracing these issues through Agamben’s and Schürmann’s texts, it becomes apparent that both authors operate with a strikingly similar approach, while adumbrating different understandings of the rapport between arche, anarchy and difference. Specifically, the essay argues that Schürmann’s work can be seen as an incisive reference point in Agamben’s recent theory of “destituent potential” by focusing on the epilogue of The Use of Bodies. Here, arche and anarchy are positioned as the basic operative categories of the entire Homo Sacer project, while the concept of “true anarchy,” developed in critical dialogue with Schürmann, turns into its philosophical vanishing point. With and against Schürmann’s attempt to think anarchy as an interruption of identity through difference, Agamben develops his notion of anarchy as as a suspension of difference, that is, as in-difference.

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