PT 2/2015 CFP ENG



genealogy and perspectives

Theoretical Practice — issue 2(16)/2015

editors: Mikołaj Ratajczak, Rafał Zawisza

The theoretical endeavour of Giorgio Agamben known under the name of homo sacer is drawing to an end. Thus, it is a time for a summary. Throughout the years the Italian thinker put an emphasis on unmasking the model of sovereign power, which was shifted to an area of economic theology. It touches the complementary paradigm of government, namely the administration and governmental efficiency. In this theoretical framework the schemas of a new policy and ethics emerge and are visible in a controversial notion: “form-of-life”. Thus we invite authors to submit articles in order to ponder over recent works of the Italian philosopher in the context of polemics evoked by them. We consider the arguments a starting and orienting point as well as a lens through which the main problems are focused.

We suggest you follow different paths of interpretation by immersing yourself in the recent writing of Agamben. First of all, we look from the angle of his former works in which we can find the antecedents of Agamben’s main conceptions. The justified question that arises is whether the announcements and promises made years ago have been accomplished. Secondly, the group of thoughts focused around economic theology demands a contextual interpretation through the prism of the alternative theoretical suggestions expanded by contemporary thinkers (e.g. R. Esposito, A. Negri, J.-L. Nancy, P. Virno, M. Cacciari, M. Tronti). Thirdly, we also consult forerunners of Agamben, particularly the lectures given by Michel Foucault in the Collège de France.

The homo sacer series has caused unprecedented resonance and has also awoken enormous expectations. Besides the enthusiasm, however, numerous critical voices have occurred as well. The lack of clear answers in Agamben’s work fosters doubts which create certain sets of concerns.

I      The first one is woven around the multiple problematic aspects that constitute a paradigm of the economic theology. The aim is to formulate a new political ontology and a conception of action. What is the form-of-life going to look like outside the law and ownership? What kind of the radical political potentials remain after parting with foregoing conceptions, such as rule of law, democracy, social contract or deliberative democracy? Do the analyses of the model of economic theology constitute a critical breakup of political theology or do they indicate the enslavement’s double character only? Does the angelology hide its critical potential for understanding current forms of biopower?

II      The caesura of the First World War sets a crucial point in Agamben’s thought. At that time the trust in the Enlightenment heritage was broken, and the antimodern circles were growing in importance, including the theologians. In these circumstances the debate concerning the notion of secularisation was started. Its protagonists were i.a. Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, Erik Peterson, Ernst  Kantorowicz, Hans Blumenberg and Jacob Taubes. Among many stakes for which they were arguing, we can enumerate especially: the legitimacy of the modern age, genesis and validity of concepts, status of the secular sphere, importance of a religious heritage and legitimisation of power. In the shade of these debates Giorgio Agamben is philosophising in order to give them a new meaning. By postulating the structural anteriority of law he is reconfiguring the autonomy of the secular sphere in its present form. Thereupon, a number of methodological questions arise: What is Agamben’s attitude to the secularisation thesis or to the origin of notions? Does not deriving the modern forms of power from patristic discussions mean attributing the status of origin to theology? What relations are there between Agamben’s methodologies of the historical and of materialism? What function does the concept of “signature” perform?

III      The recent philosophical analyses of Agamben’s work emerge from the vast text references belonging to ecclesiastical traditions as well as the history of religious movements. For a long time, nobody has taken up the challenge of such deep reading. Many of these interpretations destroy the formulaic statements connected with the doctrine and the history of Christian churches. The continuum of successions is disputed, so too is the legitimacy of their power and their claim of ownership. In the context of Agamben’s reflections we can question whether ecclesial goods are not the commons. The emphasis could be put also on priestly office, which is a prefiguration of biopower based on a metaphysically grounded and legally institutionalised amorality.

Suggested issues:

  •    economic theology versus political theology
  •    paradigm of government/management
  •    critical ontology
  •    future of action
  •    debate on the secularisation thesis
  •    Agamben’s methodologies versus historical materialism
  •    chiasmus of doctrines and practices of Christian churches
  •    arcana of a priestly office

Deadline for submitting abstracts: 20 November 2014

Confirmation of abstract’s acceptance: 24 November 2014

Deadline for submitting articles: 25 February 2015

Estimated date of publication: 30 June 2015

For further editorial details, see “For Authors”.

Pdf version