Living a la mode : Form-of-life and democratic biopolitics in Giorgio Agamben’s The Use of Bodies

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Prozorov , S 2017 , ' Living a la mode : Form-of-life and democratic biopolitics in Giorgio Agamben’s The Use of Bodies ' , Philosophy & Social Criticism , vol. 43 , no. 2 , pp. 144-163 . https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453716662500

Title: Living a la mode : Form-of-life and democratic biopolitics in Giorgio Agamben’s The Use of Bodies
Author: Prozorov, Sergei
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Political and Economic Studies (2010-2017)
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Number of pages: 20
Belongs to series: Philosophy & Social Criticism
ISSN: 0191-4537
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/178247
Abstract: The publication of The Use of Bodies, the final volume in Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer series, makes it possible to take stock of Agamben’s project as a whole. Having started with a powerful critique of the biopolitical sovereignty as the essence of modern politics, Agamben concludes his project with an affirmative vision of inoperative politics of form-of-life, in which life is not negated or sacrificed to the privileged form it must attain, but rather remains inseparable from the form that does nothing but express it. The article begins by reconstituting the non-relational logic that Agamben develops in order to render inoperative the existing apparatuses of ontology, ethics and politics. We then address the dimension of lifestyle as a new key domain of Agamben’s work, in which biopolitics may be recast in an affirmative key of form-of-life. While Agamben is better known for sceptical and scornful statements about contemporary liberal democracies, we shall argue that his affirmative biopolitics, characterized by destituent power, resonates with Claude Lefort’s understanding of democracy as structured around the ontological void and epistemic indeterminacy. In the conclusion we question the viability of this biopolitical democracy, focusing on Agamben’s example of the Nocturnal Council in Plato’s Laws.
Subject: 517 Political science
Giorgio Agamben, biopolitics, democracy, Claude Lefort
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