in the meantime, i think i’ve finally figured out what i’m gonna write for my philosophy of life class!!!!!
so, agamben draws heavily from foucault’s understanding of biopolitics as well as arendt’s understanding of totalitarianism in the concentration camps during the third reich. agamben argues that the notion of bare life is fundamental to the legitimacy and sustainability of sovereignty. this, of course, has to do with biopower and the sovereign’s exclusive power to preserve life or take it away. there’s a lot i can say here, but i’m going to critique agamben’s alternative to the biopolitical nature of western politics — what he envisages as a form-of-life in which we reject all instances of sovereignty and engage in “thought” — as something that hannah arendt would likely disagree with. agamben discusses arendt’s notion of the refugee as a person without political rights (and thus, devoid of human rights since there is no nation-state/structure to ensure the protection of those basic, inalienable rights) as the starting point for a new conception of political philosophy. i’m gonna go along the lines of saying that arendt would probably think a stateless world (one without organized politics) is dangerous because it was precisely the jew’s lack of political rights in the first place that allowed for him to be the figure of extermination during hitler’s reign. in fact, in an interview that i’ll be citing, arendt discusses her unwillingness to be labeled a philosopher (she prefers the term political theorist) because of philosophy’s tendency to create abstract solutions that are not realistically applicable. i mean, agamben’s alternative to the current political order is incredibly tenuous and it seems as though he’s incapable of painting any coherent picture of what a world without sovereignty/biopower would look like.
i’m also gonna throw in some foucault — specifically excerpts where he admits that not all forms of biopower are bad (and some, in fact, are necessary) — as a means to prove that we need some governing faction to ensure (what agamben calls) the power of possibility. i know agamben is an anarchist, but i don’t think anarchy is a legitimate form of ethics.
yeah, so this is still a very rough rough draft. but that’s what i’ve come up with so far.
and for my levinas paper, i might use deleuze and nietzsche to critique the impossibility of transcendental ethics. cause like, nobody is questioning the genius of kant, but kant himself admits the impossibility of putting his ethics into practice. and what the fuck is the point of an ethics that doesn’t have a practical application? levinas’ conception of radical responsibility for the other is impossible for a few reasons: 1. people are too self-interested to give up literally everything in their possession to another person and 2. cultural/linguistic differences mean it’s impossible for me to empathize entirely with an Other — and these differences that Levinas revealingly ignores means that i wouldn’t even be able to give the Other what he so desperately needs/wants. additionally, there are going to be people out there who want things that i ought not give them (i.e. i’m on a train alone with a man who wants me to perform sexual favors — for levinas, would i be obligated to comply?)
i think his transcendental approach to ethics is poetic, genius, and beautiful. but its merit lies not in its practical application, but rather in its ability to have me (the reader) question my subjectivity and understand my subjectivity as fundamentally shaped by an Other. on this point, i might delve into lacan’s formulation of the subject as divided in language.
SO MANY THOUGHTS.
and for my easiest class (the only undergraduate philo class i’m taking), the philosophy of imagination, i have no fucking idea what i’m gonna write about. i wanna do roland-barthes, but i’m not sure how or why or what.