(Theoretical Hot Take) Agamben Jumps the Coronavirus Shark


[h/t Samuel Moyn, Dana Hollander]. You can download this little bit here, a bad theoretical hot take by Agamben about states of exception and the “invention of an epidemic.”  Jean-Luc Nancy responds here. English translations and more contintental philosophers on orders of social seclusion are here.

Agamben responds to the kerfuffle here.

“Our neighbor has been cancelled and it is curious that churches remain silent on the subject. What do human relationships become in a country that habituates itself to live in this way for who knows how long? And what is a society that has no value other than survival?…What is worrisome is not so much or not only the present, but what comes after. Just as wars have left as a legacy to peace a series of inauspicious technology, from barbed wire to nuclear power plants, so it is also very likely that one will seek to continue even after the health emergency experiments that governments did not manage to bring to reality before: closing universities and schools and doing lessons only online, putting a stop once and for all to meeting together and speaking for political or cultural reasons and exchanging only digital messages with each other, wherever possible substituting machines for every contact — every contagion — between human beings.” 

The real fear about the future is apt, but this too might be paranoid. The hot take does not take into account how individuals and institutions are looking out for each other, and how societies move forward after catastrophe and contagion. No, this is probably not the end of the world.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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