Since the publication of Homo Sacer Giorgio Agamben has become one of the world's most revered and controversial thinkers. His ideas on our current political situation have found many supporters as well as garnering strong criticism from some quarters. While his wider thoughts on topics such as language, potentiality, life, law, messianism, power, and aesthetics have had significant impact on such diverse fields as philosophy, law, theology, history, sociology, politics, cultural and literary studies. Yet although Agamben is much read, his work has often been misunderstood.
Agamben and Indifference aims to provide clarity around all the vexing issues that have been associated with Agamben's philosophy over the last two decades or more. The book is the first to fully take into account Agamben's important recent publications, which clarify his method, complete his ideas on power, and finally reveal the role of language in his overall system. Commenting in detail on these recent books alongside re-readings of the central texts from across Agamben's career, William Watkin presents a critical overview of Agamben's work that aims to give a portrait of exactly why this thinker of indifferent and suspensive legal, political, ontological and living states can rightfully be considered one of the most important philosophers in the world today.
Introduction / Part One: The Archaeology of Indifference / 1. The Signature of All Things: Paradigms and Signatures / 2. Philosophical Archaeology / 3. The Language of Death: Indifferent Difference as Such in Hegel and Heidegger / 4. The Coming Community: An Essay on Indifferent Singularities / 5. Towards a Deictic Ontology or Being-thus As-such / Part Two: Difference and Indifference / 6. Derrida and Agamben: Différance Makes Indifference Communicable / 7. Potentiality, Virtuality and Impotentiality: Agamben and Deleuze / 8. The Two Bartlebies: Deleuze, Agamben and Immanence / Part Three: The Indifference of Indifference: Politics, Language, Life / 9. Homo Sacer and the Politics of Indifference / 10. The Kingdom and the Glory: The Articulated Inoperativity of Power / 11. The Sacrament of Language: Language as Communicability / Conclusion: The End of Lying and the Birth of Living / Bibliography / Index
William Watkin is professor of contemporary literature and philosophy at Brunel University, UK. He is the author of In the Process of Poetry: The New York School and the Avant-Garde (Bucknell UP, 2001), On Mourning: Theories of Loss in Modern Literature (Edinburgh UP, 2004) and The Literary Agamben (Continuum, 2010).
William Watkin's book is certainly an illuminating and profound reading of my entire work. But it is, at the same time, much more than that. According to Walter Benjamin's idea that theory can today only be written in the form of interpretation, Watkin has produced a work of astonishing originality, which any attempt to read twentieth-century philosophy will be obliged to confront.
The multifaceted and penetrating work of Giorgio Agamben deserves a profound study, in particular his critique of the philosophy of difference, and that of indifference which emerges from it. Watkin engages in a clear examination of the organizing concepts of Agamben and their elucidating power for all philosophy, as well as an analysis of their applications in various diverse domains (the “signatures” or names of reference of the modern tradition, the archaeology of indifference, etc.). Watkin's sharp lens is indispensable for those who want to grasp a central aspect of contemporary philosophy that has not ceased to trouble it since Nietzsche and Heidegger. It is an excellent book on a great contemporary philosopher.
One of the most powerful and thoughtful introductions to Giorgio Agamben’s thought that I have read in a long time. This is a perfect sequel to Watkin’s groundbreaking Literary Agamben. We untangle Agamben’s philosophy by delineating his concepts and methods in opposition to those of Derrida and Deleuze. Watkin guides you as no one does, and all the while provides an accessible roadmap.