Agamben and animals

I see over at posthumanism Agamben’s The Open on the list of classics in the area. Hmm. I think he only reinforces all of Heidegger’s problematic assertions about animality. If one goes by what he says elsewhere about language, isn’t it the case that animals are always already in the open since they are not taken by the decisionary and sovereign language of human beings, that is, the logos? That is, they are purely present to objects as such, whereas humans are said to need to overthrow an entire era of politics and metaphysics that have kept us propagating discourses and thus every-keeping us from the open. Now, leaving aside the completely abusive use of “animals” for all manner of beings; leaving aside questionable assumptions about language (I’m writing on that now); leaving aside an entire history of writing on the animal as perfect–and thus sacrificable (we do shoot Bambi, after all); at the least can’t we start by questioning this opposition at the heart of that work? Just a question.


  1. What I find truly illuminating – and even touching – about Agamben’s The Open is the way he poses the question of animality as an artificial discursive element which is produced inside that which will call itself the human. I think that’s very thought-provoking and even haunting, at the same time it explain many things. I believe this kind of anthropophorous animality is what allows one to say something like “we should stop treating animals like animals”, where the word animal is actually being used with different meanings each time (and the second instance works almost like an adjective).

    It’s almost amusing (and flattering) to think that someone would interpret my list as the canon of posthumanist thought, especially because I haven’t finished the list (it takes a long time to include images using html =\). Not only that, but I also decided that I would not include books I haven’t read so the list is bound to be very very selective. I wanted to title the list “Posthumanist readings I have read”, but that just sounded too long…

    But I’m really curious to hear your arguments against Agamben. I read The Open some time ago and I don’t remember exactly what my impressions were of the last chapters. It was the first ones that hooked me.

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