Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

In these acknowledgments of the many people to whom I am indebted, my first is to Giorgio Agamben, whom I had the good fortune to meet while studying at Berkeley. I thank him for his personal and intellectual generosity over the years since then and, of course, for his extraordinary body of work....

Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

In a letter to his wife dated September 5, 1966, Martin Heidegger wrote that upon arriving at the Provençal village of Le Thor, where he was to give an informal seminar on Heraclitus, he was greeted by the young poet Dominique Fourcade and “a highly talented young Italian from Rome” (ein junger hochbegabter Italiener aus Rom).1 That young Italian was, of...

Part One

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1 Agamben and Derrida Read Saussure

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pp. 13-39

Perhaps the best-known instance of Agamben’s debate with Derrida comes, not surprisingly, from what is surely his best-known and most frequently cited book, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. While oblique and overt references to deconstruction are scattered throughout that work—and indeed, as we will examine in some detail in chapter 4 below, the...

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2 “The Human Voice”

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pp. 40-83

In his 1989 introduction to the French edition of Infancy and History, Agamben describes his work from 1977 to 1982 (the year of Language and Death) as constituting a single, and in large part unrealized project, to which he gives the title “The Human Voice”:...

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3 Potenza and Différance

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pp. 84-122

In one of the final, aphoristic chapters of his 1985 book Idea of Prose, Agamben tells a story about the great Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna and his fraught relation to both his adversaries and his disciples. While the nomadic philosopher, author of Stanzas of the Middle Way, found the ritual of refuting the objections of the orthodox monks who charged him with nihilism to be tedious and depressing, Agamben tells us that...

Part Two

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4 Sovereignty, Law, and Violence

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pp. 125-166

The second half of this book is dedicated to periods in Agamben’s and Derrida’s careers that have both been described as turns from their first-philosophical work toward more overtly political theory. In the case of Derrida, this turn is often located at Specters of Marx (1993), while for Agamben it is located perhaps at The Coming Community (1990), but most certainly by...

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5 Ticks and Cats

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pp. 167-212

In the years around the turn of the century, Agamben and Derrida both focused their attention on the question of the animal and its relation to the human. Though Derrida’s book The Animal That Therefore I Am [L’animal que donc je suis] was published in French in 2006, two years after his death, the component parts of that book have a slightly complicated publication...

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6 A Matter of Time

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pp. 213-254

In the last decade of the millennium, both Derrida and Agamben take up the question of “messianism” or “the messianic.” As commentators have noted, few terms of this strong a religious provenance have received such heavy usage in recent philosophical debates, and certainly many of Agamben’s and Derrida’s texts of this period have been central to discussions of ...

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Coda

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pp. 255-262

Over the last three chapters of this book, we’ve seen Agamben call for the neutralization and deactivation of a number of apparatuses that govern and determine human action—law, “anthropology” or anthropogenesis, and even chronological time. What all of those apparatuses have in common is that they are machines for creating separations and articulations ...

Notes

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pp. 263-288

Works Cited

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pp. 289-296

Index

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pp. 297-312