Abstract

Abstract:

As Giorgio Agamben brings his Homo Sacer project to a close in L'Uso dei corpi (The Use of Bodies), he pitches the slave as paradigm of the human, his archaeology of slavery hinging on select turns of phrase in Aristotle and Paul the Apostle. An assessment of Agamben's argument thus requires close attention to his signature philological moves, an exegesis of his exegeses. Professing to find the archaic nucleus of slavery, the truth of use, in a zone of indifference, Agamben conjures a slave without slavery, an exemplar of inoperativity and a common use of bodies. I offer critiques both of his method of philosophical archaeology and of his anthropology, raising questions about the tension between domination and mutual use, about the limits power imposes on potentiality, and about the paradoxical privilege implied by indifference to freedom. Intent on what he characterizes as the messianic vocation of the slave, Agamben is unable to see that the slave is always more than a slave, or, as one might say in Greek, hyper doulon.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 4-27
Launched on MUSE
2022-01-19
Open Access
No
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