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by Adam Kotsko,Giorgio Agamben
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Philosophy
  • Author:
    Adam Kotsko,Giorgio Agamben
  • ISBN:
    0804768978
  • ISBN13:
    978-0804768979
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Stanford University Press; 1st edition (December 6, 2010)
  • Pages:
    104 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Philosophy
  • Language:
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  • Rating:
    4.2
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    914
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Giorgio Agamben, an Italian philosopher and radical political theorist, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Venice.

Giorgio Agamben, an Italian philosopher and radical political theorist, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Venice. Stanford University Press has published eight of his previous books: Homo Sacer (1998), Potentialities (1999), The Man Without Content (1999), The End of the Poem (1999), The Open (2004), The Time that Remains(2005), "What is an Apparatus?" and Other Essays (2009), and, most recently, Nudities (2010).

Giorgio Agamben, an Italian philosopher and radical political theorist, is Professor of Philosophy at the . Series: Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics.

This book is a continuation of Giorgio Agamben's investigation of political theory, which began with the highly .

This book is a continuation of Giorgio Agamben's investigation of political theory, which began with the highly influential volume Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Having already traced the roots of the idea of sovereignty, sacredness, and economy, he now turns to a perhaps unlikely topic: the concept of the oath. Following the Italian scholar Paolo Prodi, Agamben sees the oath as foundational for Western politics and undertakes an exploration of the roots of the phenomenon of the oath in human experience.

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In this book, Giorgio Agamben traces the concept of 'state of exception' (Ausnahmezustand) used by Carl Schmitt to Roman justitium and auctoritas

Homo Sacer II, 3 (2008). The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government. Homo Sacer II, 4 (2007). Opus Dei: An Archeology of Duty. Homo Sacer II, 5 (2013). In this book, Giorgio Agamben traces the concept of 'state of exception' (Ausnahmezustand) used by Carl Schmitt to Roman justitium and auctoritas. This leads him to a response to Carl Schmitt's definition of sovereignty as the power to proclaim the exception. Agamben's text State of Exception investigates the increase of power by governments which they employ in supposed times of crisis.

Agamben, Giorgio, 1942- author. Sacramento del linguaggio.

If there is one salient criticism to be made of this book, it is that Agamben leaves the relationship between the oath and the state of exception tantalisingly unclear.

This compact study (the essay itself is 73 pages) belongs with two other volumes, The State of Exception and The Kingdom and the Glory; together, this trinity of short texts make up the second part of the 'Homo Sacer' series. If there is one salient criticism to be made of this book, it is that Agamben leaves the relationship between the oath and the state of exception tantalisingly unclear.

Oaths play an essential part in the political and religious history of the West as a 'sacrament of power'. Taking this question as its point of departure, Giorgio Agamben's book develops a pathbreaking 'archaeology' of the oath. Yet despite numerous studies by linguists, anthropologists and historians of law and of religion, there exists no complete analysis of the oath which seeks to explain the strategic function that this phenomenon has performed at the intersection of law, religion and politics.

This book is a continuation of Giorgio Agamben's investigation of political theory, which began with the highly influential volume Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Having already traced the roots of the idea of sovereignty, sacredness, and economy, he now turns to a perhaps unlikely topic: the concept of the oath. Following the Italian scholar Paolo Prodi, Agamben sees the oath as foundational for Western politics and undertakes an exploration of the roots of the phenomenon of the oath in human experience. He rejects the common idea that the oath finds its origin in religion, arguing instead that the oath points toward a particular response to the experience of language, a response that gave birth to both religion and law as we now know them. This book is important not only for readers of Agamben or of continental philosophy more broadly, but for anyone interested in questions relating to the relationships among religion, law, and language.

Querlaca
I want first to suggest that this book is probably appropriate only for readers of Agamben, by which I mean people who have already read a lot of his work on politics and language. This is true not merely because Agamben's thesis about the oath takes us to revisit (and crystallize) an aspect of his fundamental thesis about the power of language, but principally because, while Agamben does, in the end, tie the oath immediately to the "political curse", and even hints in an earlier moment about the function of oath as a guarantor of loyalty, the concrete political function of the oath seems, on my reading (which may certainly be misguided), to be absent. Hence, it takes at least some familiarity with Agamben's politics to draw substantive conclusions about the political function of oath.

That said, this work presents the erudition one expects from Agamben. Plenty of authors and traditions are drawn on here, from his typical fare (Benveniste, Levi-Strauss) to Usener's Goetternamen. Not confounding law and politics, Agamben does a great job both of dispelling theories claiming primordial mysticism as the foundations of the oath (and, subsequently, of law) and of demonstrating, through recourse to his thoughts on language, an originary tie between the experience of dichotomy in language (word/thing) and the performative experience of swearing which attempts to bridge the gap (unsuccessfully, as we know Agamben argues). In the Homo Sacer series, SoL seems like a bit of a digression, but I also think that such a move--advancing thought through a series of seemingly-unrelated ideas--is expected from this author.
WtePSeLNaGAyko
We are swamped in distrust, and that explains the breadth of our current economic and moral crisis, as most financial transactions are based on trust. In this context, Agamben's inquiry into the anthropology of the oath is most welcome, as it points to the cultural junctures that have made the oath a guarantee of truthfulness and may help explain why such guarantee is not working as it used to. A fine argument minutely built in a compact manner, in Agamben's clear and exquisite prose.
Ariseym
There is plenty here to set one's mind to work. He displays a strong grasp of classic theology and history. There is always more to find on re-reading.
HyderCraft
As far as Agamben's 'little books' go (the ones that hover around a hundred pages give or take), The Sacrament of Language isn't his most compelling. Which is not to say that it isn't an important book in the context of his philosophical oeuvre, but simply that, as far the actual experience of reading it goes, it's a little bit of a slog. Almost the entirely of the book is given over to, as the subtitle announces, 'an archeology of the oath' - which translates as a thorough examination of the linguistic specificity the oath. Against those who read the oath's power as deriving from some mysterious sacred or magic 'force', Agamben instead argues for the originality and self-sufficiency of the oath as that which affirms not this or that statement in language, but the efficacy of language as such. Along the way, Agamben places the oath alongside a whole range of linguistic phenomena including the curse, the insult, the blessing, blasphemy, magical incantations and probably a couple of others I missed. It's interesting in a sort of academic way, and it isn't until the last maybe five or six pages that what's at stake in all of it comes into clear focus.

And what is at stake in it all? Well, as Agamben says, it's nothing less than "the nature of man as a speaking being and a political animal" (!). This insofar as the oath exemplifies the place in which life itself is put at stake in the experience of language (this not being the case, for example, for other animals, Agamben argues). Taken in the immediate context of The Sacrament of Language, it's a somewhat surprising conclusion, but those who've followed Agamben elsewhere will recognize the motif almost instantly: it's one that finds expression in almost all of Agamben's works, and read alongside them (I'm thinking here especially of Language and Death,The Open, and (the latter chapters of) Remnants of Auschwitz), The Sacrament of Language slips in easily as another light shed upon the ever evolving, ever interesting body of ideas that Agamben has developed over his career. Would give it another half a star if I could.