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Agamben and Radical Politics$
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Daniel McLoughlin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402637

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402637.001.0001

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Zoē aiōniōs: Giorgio Agamben and the Critique of Katechontic Time

Zoē aiōniōs: Giorgio Agamben and the Critique of Katechontic Time

Chapter:
(p.141) 7 Zoē aiōniōs: Giorgio Agamben and the Critique of Katechontic Time
Source:
Agamben and Radical Politics
Author(s):

Nicholas Heron

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402637.003.0007

This chapter illuminates Agamben’s understanding of time, which is central to his ‘messianic’ approach to politics, by tracing the semantic history of the term aion (which gives rise to the modern ‘eternity’). Heron shows that aion initially referred to an immanent life force before gradually shifted in meaning to denote an unending duration associated with a transcendent and unchanging being. This latter understanding of eternity became central to the Church, which justified its existence on the basis that the messianic event was delayed (a vision that was secularised by the modern state). The link that Agamben draws between eternal life and the ‘coming politics’ in the final pages of The Kingdom and Glory is an attempt to undermine this institutionalise the messianic event and restore the idea of eternity for use in the present.

Keywords:   Agamben, eternal life, katechon, messianism

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