The Open: Man and Animal
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In The Open, contemporary Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben considers the ways in which the "human" has been thought of as either a distinct and superior type of animal, or a kind of being that is essentially different from animal altogether. In an argument that ranges from ancient Greek, Christian, and Jewish texts to twentieth-century thinkers such as Heidegger, Benjamin, and Kojève, Agamben examines the ways in which the distinction between man and animal has been manufactured by the logical presuppositions of Western thought, and he investigates the profound implications that the man/animal distinction has had for disciplines as seemingly disparate as philosophy, law, anthropology, medicine, and politics.
becoming Da-sein of living man. But this passage, this becoming-Dasein of living man (or, as Heidegger also writes in the course, this taking on of the burden which, for man, is Dasein), does not open onto a further, wider, and brighter space, achieved beyond the limits of the animal environment, and unrelated to it; on the contrary, it is opened only by means of a suspension and a deactivation of the animal relation with the disinhibitor. In this suspension, in this remaining-inactive
Heidegger a political paradigm (indeed the political paradigm par excellence) is at stake in the dialectic between concealedness and unconcealedness. In the course on Parmenides, the polis is defined precisely by the conflict between Verborgenheit and Unverborgenheit. The polis is the place, gathered into itself, of the unconcealedness of beings. If now, however, as the word indicates, ale¯theia possesses a conflictual essence, and if this conflictuality appears also in the relation of opposition
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population’s life as one of its essential tasks, thus transforming its politics into biopolitics, it was primarily by means of a progressive generalization and redefinition of the concept of vegetative life (now coinciding with the biological heritage of the nation) that the State would carry out its new vocation. And still today, in discussions about the definition ex lege of the criteria for clinical death, it is a further identification of this bare life—detached from any brain activity and,