The Study of Exception: A methodological reflection on Agamben’s problematisation of the relation between law and life

Forzani, Francesco 2022. The Study of Exception: A methodological reflection on Agamben’s problematisation of the relation between law and life. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster Law School https://doi.org/10.34737/vvz2z

TitleThe Study of Exception: A methodological reflection on Agamben’s problematisation of the relation between law and life
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsForzani, Francesco
Abstract

This thesis engages, from a methodological perspective, with Agamben’s problematisation of the relation between law and life. More specifically, Agamben’s work on law is here considered as a veiled reflection on the potentiality of study as a form of non-instrumental praxis, i.e. study as a means without ends. The political element of Agamben’s critique of law, it is suggested, resides in his attempt at developing a method to reflect on the conditions of possibility of power, to be understood as a form of thought – i.e. the power of thought – which has left its mark, or better, its signature, on the politico-juridical tradition of the West, determining the ways in which life has been conceptualised and, eventually, lived by the subjects who have inhabited this tradition. This signature, practically, is a signature of instrumental-exceptionality which performs a fundamental biopolitical-anthropogenetic function: it allows to functionally relate an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’ of man, for the purpose of constituting (and preserving) the world as a governable space, a space in which life could be made (and thought as) governable. The law has played, and still plays, a fundamental role in producing this space and, in fact, it can be studied as a priviledged field in which this signature of exceptionality/instrumentality has organised the governability of life through the functional articulation of a form (of law) separated from life and a force (of life) which animates it from the outside (in pseudo-immanent or pseudo-transcendental terms). This considerations ground the experience of study as a sort of wandering among the ruins of legal thought, a virtual space in which power finds its expression precisely in the endless attempt at producing an articulation of form and force of both law and life. The (dis)function of the student, from this perspective, is to expose this articulating practice without partaking (uncritically, i.e. by presupposing it) to the process of its reproduction. As a result, Agamben’s work provides a critique of legal theorising itself as an articulating practice and, therefore, also the possibility to study the law anew, an experience of study as a means without end. But this also means that the signature of power is, at the same time, a signature of study: in other words, a means of both constitution and destitution.

Year2022
File
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
PublishedMar 2022
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/vvz2z

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