Sunday 27 April 2008

Agamben on transcendence and evil

“The transcendent, therefore, is not a supreme entity above all things; rather, the pure transcendent is the taking-place of every thing. God or the good or the place does not take place, but is the taking-place of the entities, their innermost exteriority. The being-worm of the worm, the being-stone of the stone, is divine. That the world is, that something can appear and have a face, that there is exteriority and non-latency as the determination and the limit of every thing: this is the good. Thus, precisely its being irreparably in the world is what transcends and exposes every worldly entity. Evil, on the other hand, is the reduction of taking-place of things to a fact like others, the forgetting of the transcendence inherent in the very taking-place of things. With respect to the these things, however, the good is not somewhere else; it is simply the point at which they grasp the taking-place proper to them, at which they touch their own non-transcendent matter. In this sense – and only in this sense – the good must be defined as a self-grasping of evil, and salvation as the coming of the place to itself.”

—Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), p. 15.


byron smith said...

I haven't read the context or the book, but if the good must be defined as a self-grasping of evil, then is this self-grasping broader than simply knowledge or awareness of its own being?

Also, with this phrase particularly in mind, God or the good or the place, does Agamben distinguish between these three? Are the two instances of 'or' in this phrase to be understood epexegetically? (i.e God = the good = the place)

Anonymous said...

Worry not.


Anonymous said...

'it's nice to have a chat with a clever man'. By this reasoning weren't the Nazi's good as they certainly grasped the evil in their being and took it's place? Agamben and Badiou, two bloody kids trying to outsmart each other, at least with rock guitarists you shake your own head sufficiently hard to know why your feeling brain dead. Does anybody write in order to be understood these days or is it all just mental masturbation?

Anonymous said...

What exactly does all of that mean?

Whenever there is an other, fear spontaneously arises. And thus the dreadful applied politics of fear and the search for scape-goats.

Unknown said...

Does anybody write in order to be understood these days? Funny you should ask, these guys have been arguing over this for a few days now. And Badiou is being placed in the "yes he is writing to be understood camp.
Warning: the comments in that post will take you the better part of an afternoon to work through.

Anonymous said...

Profound. It reminds me of Eriugena and also Aquinas' reflections in De Veritate on all things being spoken and most truly existing in the eternal utterance of the Word.


MM said...

I hereby vow that someday I will come up with a punchline for " Agamben and John Paul II walk into a bar..."

Anonymous said...

For: MM

It may end up being one of those jokes that go along the lines of:

"What did Batman say to Robin before they got in the Batmobile?"



Wait for it...

"Get in the Batmobile, Robin!"


MM said...

-m----- Nah, really it gets better than that. But thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

For: MM

Oh, I knew well in advance I wouldn't really be helpful. Kind of you to think so, however.

Let us know when you have something concrete. :)



MM said...

-M-: ... likewise :)

Out of respect for Ben's blog, I'll clarify my comment. I am preparing to lead a seminar next month at Portsmouth Abbey on the theological anthropologies of JP II, Kelsey, Agamben, and Maritain. You can see why a punchline would be useful. I'd assumed that the conceptual nexus between John Paul and Agamben would be obvious to most.

Mykel G. Larson said...

For MM:

Maybe your joke could just be:

"John Paul II and Ambigen walk into a bar..."

And that's it!

Problem solved. :D


Mykel G. Larson said...



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