Specters of Nietzsche: Potential Futures for the Concept of the Political in Agamben and Derrida
114 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2007
Date Written: September 1, 2004
In this paper I first explicate and then critically compare and contrast the political philosophies of Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida. Their writings intersect at a number of crucial issues and texts, sometimes lightly touching, sometimes crossing at the same point, going, so to speak, in different directions, and thus often resembling each other without, however, there being an actual identity of viewpoint. The differences, although sometimes subtle, are real. My thesis is that, subtle though these intersections and differences are, they reveal two incompatible yet inextricable axes of contemporary political thought, blueprints of the competing visions of the political between which, for the foreseeable future, the most advanced philosophical thinking on the political will have to choose. Here, by way of an organizing principle, I attempt to show that these axes can be articulated around two ways of inheriting Nietzsche's intellectual legacy -- one that interprets the essence of political action in fundamentally ontological terms (Agamben), and the other that interprets it as fundamentally ethical (Derrida).
Keywords: Agamben, Derrida, the political, political philosophy, messianism, sovereignty, Schmitt
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