The Mystery of the Return: Agamben and Bloch on the Parousia of St. Paul and the messianic time

Praktyka Teoretyczna 1 (35):121-147 (2020)
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Abstract
During the last two decades, a sharp re-reading of St. Paul’s letters allowed several thinkers to embed a messianic element in their political philosophy. In these readings, the messianic refusal of the world and its laws is understood through the suspensive act of ‘subtraction’ – a movement of withdrawal which nonetheless proved too often ineffective when translated in political practice. After having analysed Agamben’s declension of Subtraction in terms of ‘inoperativity’, this article focuses on the notion of Parousia as a key element to understand his anti-utopian account of messianic time. In contrast with Agamben’s reading, Bloch’s interpretation of the Pauline Parousia envisages the messianic event as infra-historical, but at the same time opened to ultimate (meta-historical) purposes. Bloch’s messianic call – I argue – takes the form of mediation, a correction of subtraction towards the direction of a more committed political engagement. I conclude suggesting that the concrete implementations of this mediation perform their emancipatory function in so far as they assume the character of practical ethics, with the attention directed to the underprivileged and marginalised.
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Archival date: 2020-09-24
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2020-09-24

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