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Infancy and History Paperback – 27 Oct 1993
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"Giorgio Agamben is possibly the most delicate and probing thinker since Walter Benjamin."--Avital Ronell
About the Author
Giorgio Agamben is Director of the Philosophy Programme at the College International de Philosophie in Paris and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Macerata in Italy. His books include Language and Death, Stanzas and The Community to Come.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This is early Agamben in form (more essay-like, perhaps less fragmented than some of his later works), but is true to his later thinking on political philosophy, human rights, and even aesthetics.
I admire Agamben for his strong grasp of linguistic, cultural, and intellectual history. At times, he seems far too willing to synthesize, or too willing to crystallize an argument or even a single point; at other times, Further, it is clear that he is referencing works by Benjamin--in this work, Benjamin's early essays on Kafka's gesture, as well as his early "Experience" (the title of the work deals explicitly with experience) and "On Language as Such" essays--and adapting, translating, and advancing such ideas without noting their intellectual precedent.
Regardless, read this book if you're interested in Agamben and/or elegant contemporary philosophy. Its range is sweeping and will likely relate to those in fields as diverse as performance studies, cognitive studies, critical theory, cultural studies, political philosophy, and contemporary philoopphy. Its interest in experience, infancy, ritual, play, and gesture--and how these terms might be theorized and advanced through the history of philosophy--are the work's central concerns, and these are all critical aesthetic and political terms for modern cultural and philosophical thinkers. You likely won't find elsewhere a more lucid and focused exploration of these terms with as much rigor and as much philosophical focus and background.
The best chapter here is about a series of letters between Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. Agamben argues in favor of Benjamin's method, a view I'm partial to. There are other interesting moments throughout but also a lot of grappling with the canon, a necessary task for professional Continental Philosophers, perhaps, but not necessarily compelling reading for the rest of us.
This book could be read alongside Derrida's 'The Politics of Friendship'.