Mathew Abbott, The Figure of This World: Agamben and the Question of Political Ontology (EUP: 2014)

Mathew Abbott argues that Agamben’s thought is misunderstood when read in terms of critical theory or traditional political philosophy, and shows it should instead be understood as engaging in political ontology: the study of the political stakes of the question of being. He demonstrates the crucial influence of Martin Heidegger on Agamben’s work, locating it in the post-Heideggerian tradition of the critique of metaphysics. He also positions it in relation to the thought of Benjamin, Nietzsche, Levinas, Nancy, and Wittgenstein. As he clarifies Agamben’s philosophy, Abbott links it with Wittgenstein’s picture theory and Heidegger’s concept of the world-picture, showing the importance of this for understanding – and potentially overcoming – the forms of alienation characteristic of the society of the spectacle.


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