[SydPhil] [Philosophy at UWS seminar] 3 September - Bryan Cooke, Every action is an acclamation: Agamben on the Glorious Redundancy of (Economic) Governance

Philosophy@UWS Philosophy at uws.edu.au
Fri Aug 22 10:23:55 AEST 2014

Philosophy at UWS presents
Bryan Cooke<http://www.uws.edu.au/philosophy/philosophy@uws/events/research_seminars_2014/bryan_cooke>
Every action is an acclamation: Agamben on the Glorious Redundancy of (Economic) Governance.
DATE/TIME: Wednesday, 3 September, 3.30-5.00pm

PLACE: University of Western Sydney, Bankstown Campus, Building 3, Room 3.G.27  [How to get to Bankstown Campus] http://www.uws.edu.au/campuses_structure/cas/campuses/bankstown

All welcome
ABSTRACT: One of the goals of Hannah Arendt's project in The Human Condition is, famously, the attempt to revive a radical republican conception of democratic politics which she sees as occluded by the dominance -- especially in the Anglophone world -- of liberal political philosophies centring on notions of individual rights. At the heart of this argument -- at least as regards her account of the various modes of "la vita activa" in The Human Condition  -- is Arendt's insistence,  on the importance of maintaining the (Aristotelian) distinction between the affairs of the city (polis) and those of the household (oikos).

In this paper, I will discuss what I see as Giorgio Agamben's contributions to an attempt to re-think the relationship between "oikos" and "polis" (or economy, society and politics) not -- as might be expected -- in regards to his discussion of "biopolitics" in Homo Sacer but instead in relation to the theological genealogy of the concept of "oikonomia" which is the explicit topic of his later work The Kingdom and the Glory. The importance of Agamben's late work is, I will argue, the way in which it allows us to think about what today has arguably become a fundamental imbrication of the "economic" and the "political" which will not, unfortunately, allow for any definitive conceptual (let alone practical) separation of these two spheres.

Given, however, that (as Agamben well knows) any opposition to neo-liberalism and capitalism, i.e. any devotion to what Badiou calls the 'communist hypothesis' requires an insistence on the "political" control of the economy, one might ask what might be the virtue of insisting (as I shall) that these two spheres in some sense collapse or enter into a zone of indistinction? Isn't the rigorous separation between the two domains in some sense necessary for any movement that would seek the overthrow of governance by the anarchy of the market with something like governance by the people in the sense of generic humanity?

In response to such questions, my argument will be that Agamben's intervention -- which, obviously, is completely opposed to the idea of happy submission to the quasi-divine oikonomia -- is actually directed to undoing certain ethical categories which, I will argue, take on a perverse hegemony under conditions of late capitalism and, in particular, via what I will call a particular temporality of consumer societies. In accounting for this conception of ethics and its relationship to capitalist time, I will be guided by Agamben's thought-provoking) question: "Why does power need glory?"

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Siobhain O'Leary
Administration Coordinator, Philosophy Research Initiative
University of Western Sydney
Bankstown Campus Building 5
Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751
+61 2 9772 6190

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