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Contemporary Encounters with Ancient Metaphysics$
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Abraham Jacob Greenstine and Ryan J. Johnson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474412094

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474412094.001.0001

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Contingency and Skepticism in Agamben’s Thought

Contingency and Skepticism in Agamben’s Thought

(p.289) Chapter 16 Contingency and Skepticism in Agamben’s Thought
Contemporary Encounters with Ancient Metaphysics

Gert-Jan van der Heiden

Edinburgh University Press

Gert-Jan van der Heiden’s “Contingency and Skepticism in Agamben’s Thought” articulates an encounter between Sextus Empiricus and Giorgio Agamben. Contrary to the usual epistemological reading of ancient skepticism, van der Heiden points out the ontological import of skeptical problems. Van der Heiden focuses especially on how skeptical and quasi-skeptical terms (such as ἐποχή‎ and οὐ μᾶλλον‎, the Platonic εὐπορία‎, and the Pauline καταργεῖν‎) underlie Agamben’s ontology of contingency and potentiality. Thus van der Heiden uncovers a peculiar potentiality of the skeptic. The skeptic has the power to withhold assent, to refuse to affirm or to deny any particular belief; this is the habit of skeptical thinking itself, a power that is not subordinated to any sort of actuality.

Keywords:   Contingency, Skepticism, Sextus Empiricus, Agamben, Saint Paul, Potentiality

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