Language, exception, messianism: The thematics of Agamben on Derrida

The Bible and Critical Theory 6 (1):5.1-5.12 (2010)
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This paper revisits Giorgio Agamben’s text The Time That Remains and through a comparative analysis contrasts the author’s reading of St Paul’s Romans to relevant Derridean thematics prevalent in the text. Specific themes include language, the law, and the subject. I illustrate how Agamben attempts to revitalise the idea of philosophical anthropology by breaking away from the deconstructive approach. Agamben argues that language is an experience but is currently in a state of nihilism. Consequently, the subject has become lost; or, more specifically, the subject and its object have not disappeared in language but through language. The resuscitation of experience is thus required to defeat this condition: only in language does the subject have its site and origin. Unlike deconstruction, which highlights an inherent paradox within a situation unearthing a questionable foundation, Agamben argues that, by investigating the “exception,” one finds neither a norm nor an inherent truth of the situation, but the confusion which surrounds them both.
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