In Homo Sacer, Giorgio Agamben suggests that Herman’s Melville’s ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ offers the ‘strongest objection against the principle of sovereignty’. As Agamben sees it, refugees pose a limit to the political categories of Melville’s famous story “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” which is a recurrent. From Giorgio Agamben’s Potentialities. The Scribe, or On Creation 1. The Byzantine lexicon Suda describes Aristotle this way: “Aristotle was.

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Agamben5. Inside or outside the categories of sovereignty. Notify me of new comments via email. Email required Address never made public.

Literature and Philosophy: Deleuze, Agamben and Rancière reading Melville’s “Bartleby”.

This can be understood by anyone with intelligence, for to say more is prohibited. Potentiality is withdrawn from truth conditions because it can be or not be; it is prior to the action of the principle of noncontradiction. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: It is this supremacy of will over potentiality that Bartleby throws in question.

It is difficult to imagine something more pharisaic than this demiurge, who contemplates all uncreated possible worlds to take delight in his own single choice.

It is a standard view that the three monotheistic religions believe in a creation from nothing. Will is what brings order to chaotic potential: The difficulty is thinking a potential not to think, or to explain what it means for a potential not to think to become actual. The formula is repeated so agwmben that it ruins any bartelby between absolute and ordered potential.

The other possibility is that if God were capable of not getting what he wants, then he would be capable of non-Being, which introduces nihilism into God: In contrast, the Cabalists say that the matter creation presupposes is divine potentiality—it is a darkness in God from which the Nothing is eternally produced.


Does this renewal remain within sovereignty?

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If it thinks something other than itself, it does not matter if it thinks something important or trivial. Agamben is so enamored with the scrivener that he forgets about the story. All potential to be or to do something is also the potential to not be or do something, and without this, all potentiality would be indistinguishable from actuality. The Bartleby twist on the principle of sufficient reason is: Avicenna uses the image of writing to describe the various levels of the potential intellect.

Agamben concludes this passage by saying. Avicenna thought of the creation of the world as an act in which the divine thinks itself. Traditionally, these problems are tempered by two principles. This God enjoys contemplating these events and his own choice among them: Hence it does not even want what it desires; there is no reason for it want one thing rather than another.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here On the writing tablet of the celestial scribe, the letter, the act of writing, marks the passage from potentiality to actuality, the occurrence of a contingency. Thought, if it thinks bartlebt, seems to be pointless.

Medieval theologians make a distinction between an absolute potentiality by which God could do anything, including evil, and an ordered potential, by which God can only do that which is in accord with his will.


As the writer who has stopped writing, he is the extreme figure of the Nothing from which everything derives, and vindicates it as pure, absolute potentiality. Does it break with sovereignty altogether and propose something else?

The question of how something could come from nothing is complicated; upon examination, the Nothing ends up looking like something, though a special kind of something. And if it thinks something, then that something is superior, because the thing would determine it.

The Formula, or On Potentiality 1. There is sky and there is grass. The Byzantine lexicon Suda describes Aristotle agambdn way: The image is ambiguous, and this bartlebby no doubt contributed to its widespread success.

The aporia here is that the highest thought can neither think nothing or think something, or remain potential or become actual. The idea of contingency produces many problems.

Literature and Philosophy: Deleuze, Agamben and Rancière reading Melville’s “Bartleby”.

Contingency is replaced by necessity or impossibility. For Agammben, the science of letters marks the passage from the inexpressible to the expressible, or from potentiality to actuality. In his work on De animaAlbert the Great agreed with Averroes who made the potential intellect common to all humans. This only pushes the aporia back, however—what does it mean for a potential to think to think itself?

The question is, though, why would this hopelessness express itself in this way and not another.