Modern political subjects seem to be caught between their limited agency and their unlimited vulnerability. This book traces the genealogy of the Western political subject in major literary, philosophical, juridical and political texts.
The narrative follows a reverse chronological path, from the modern self-sufficient individual to the corporate subject of medieval juridical theology, the legal actor of Roman codes and procedures, the voting citizen of Greek oligarchic democracies and the warrior of Homeric poems. The book suggests that the autarkic logic of the atomized modern subject and her double concern with vulnerability and agency ultimately harks back to the Greek alternative between acting and being acted upon, and its theological recasting in medieval Europe. And yet, this very acknowledgement also shows the way out of the double enclosure of individual and collective subjects, which may be at last worked out as interpenetrating multiplicities both in theory and in practice.
Chapter One: Of Wounds and Woundings: Damages to the Relational Body
Chapter Two: The Invention of the Modern Self between Hay and Robinson
Chapter Three: The Fundamentalist Reinvention of the Individual in the Age of Reformation and its Discontents
Chapter Four: Painted, Mirrored, and Mystical Bodies: A Medieval Proliferation
Chapter Five: A New Interiority in Christian Romania
Chapter Six: Roman Legal Actors: The Ordered Permutation of Personae
Chapter Seven: Keys to Greek Individuation
Chapter Eight: Greek Early Theoretical Bottlenecks and their Homeric Horizon
Chapter Nine: Not Just Autos: The Reinvention of Abundance
Epilogue: Provincializing the Individual
Appendix: A Note on Paradigms
Riccardo Baldissone is a Fellow at the University of Westminster's Law and Theory Centre, UK.