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Agamben's Philosophical Lineage

Edited by Adam Kotsko, Carlo Salzani

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A critical guide to the philosophy of Giorgio Agamben, organised around the philosophers and thinkers he draws on and critiques

One of the greatest challenges Agamben presents to his readers is the vast and often bewildering range of sources he draws upon in his work. Looking at figures including Michel Foucault, St Paul, Nietzsche, the Marquis de Sade, Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt, this one-stop reference to Agamben’s influences covers 30 thinkers: his primary interlocutors, his secondary references, and the figures who lurk in the background of his arguments without being directly mentioned.

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List of abbreviations

Introduction: Agamben as a Reader

Adam Kotsko and Carlo Salzani

Part I: Primary Interlocutors

1. Aristotle
Jussi Backman

2. Walter Benjamin
Carlo Salzani

3. Guy Debord
Dave Mesing

4. Michel Foucault
Vanessa Lemm

5. Martin Heidegger
Mathew Abbott

6. Paul the Apostle
Ted Jennings

7. Carl Schmitt
Sergei Prozorov

Part II: Points of Reference

8. Hannah Arendt
John Grumley

9. Georges Bataille
Nadine Hartmann

10. Émile Benveniste
Henrik Wilberg

11. Dante Alighieri
Paolo Bartoloni

12. Gilles Deleuze
Claire Colebrook

13. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Alysia Garrison

14. Friedrich Hölderlin
Henrik Wilberg

15. Franz Kafka
Anke Snoek

16. Immanuel Kant
Susan Brophy

17. Friedrich Nietzsche
Vanessa Lemm

18. Plato
Mika Ojakangas

19. Plotinus
Mårten Björk

20. Marquis de Sade
Christian Grünnagel

21. Baruch Spinoza
Jeffrey Bernstein

22. Aby Warburg
Adi Efal-Lautenschläger

Part III: Submerged Dialogues

23. Theodor W. Adorno
Colby Dickinson

24. Jacques Derrida
Virgil Brower

25. Sigmund Freud
Virgil Brower

26. Jacques Lacan
Frances Restuccia

27. Karl Marx
Jessica Whyte

28. Antonio Negri
Ingrid Diran

29. Gershom Scholem
Julia Ng

30. Simone Weil
Beatrice Marovich

Conclusion: Agamben as a Reader of Agamben
Adam Kotsko

About the Contributors


About the Author

Adam Kotsko is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Shimer College, Chicago. He is the author of The Prince of This World: The Life and Legacy of the Devil (Stanford University Press, 2016), Creepiness (Zero Books, 2015), Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television (Zero Books, 2012), Awkwardness: An Essay (Zero Books, 2010), Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (Continuum, 2010), Zizek and Theology (Continuum, 2008). He is co-author of Agamben’s Coming Philosophy: Finding a New Use for Theology (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

Carlo Salzani is an independent scholar and translator. He is the author of Introduzione a Giorgio Agamben (Il nuovo melangolo, 2013), Crisi e possibilità: Robert Musil e il tramonto dell’Occidente (Peter Lang, 2010) and Constellations of Reading: Walter Benjamin in Figures of Actuality (Peter Lang, 2009). He is co-editor of Towards the Critique of Violence: Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben (Bloomsbury, 2015) and Philosophy and Kafka (Lexington, 2013).


Marrying philological dexterity with analytical acumen, this volume goes a very long way to rectify the often superficial way in which the writings of Giorgio Agamben have been treated in an academic discourse where citation often replaces understanding. The editors and contributors should be commended for providing us, at last, with the intellectual instruments to critically approach Agamben’s creation and destruction of a sui generis philosophical tradition.

- Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths, University of London

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