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Title: Form-of-Life between the Messianic As Not and the Hypothetical As If
Authors: Chien-heng Wu
Issue Date: Mar-2015
Publisher: 英語學系
Department of English, NTNU
Abstract: This paper takes Agamben’s conceptualization of form-of-life as its point of departure and situates this idea within the larger context of Agamben’s philosophy. Agamben diagnoses our contemporary political crisis and searches for a mode of existence where life would remain inseparable from its form: in this way he offers both a compelling analysis of sovereign power and a redemptive hope. However, it is not clear to what extent his notion of messianic redemption corresponds to that of political emancipation, for the register of change in Agamben’s political philosophy is framed exclusively in ontological terms, leaving the coming politics in a suspended sphere of pure mediality which subordinates questions concerning political contestation and material transformation. My contention is that an ontological politics modeled on potentiality proves a necessary yet insufficient ground for thinking political emancipation. It therefore behooves us to explore ways in which we can build on Agamben’s insight, but take it in a different direction and place it on a different level of analysis. The argument of this paper is that, rather than seeing the condition of possibility of change as being equivalent to change itself, we need to think the ethical exigency (in the form of the messianic as not) and the political dissensus (in the form of the hypothetical as if) together as forming a dialectic—such that ethics and politics are made in service of each other, not in place of each other.
Other Identifiers: 1FD821E6-28FB-1DF2-663E-4C2981033E50
Appears in Collections:Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics

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