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Agamben's Philosophical Lineage$
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Adam Kotsko and Carlo Salzani

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474423632

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474423632.001.0001

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Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt

(p.87) 7 Carl Schmitt
Agamben's Philosophical Lineage

Sergei Prozorov

Edinburgh University Press

The work of Carl Schmitt has been a key influence on Agamben’s work, particularly his more political writings. Especially in the Anglo-American context, the discovery of Agamben’s work after the publication of the first volume of Homo Sacer coincided with a major revival of interest in Schmitt, both of which were partly motivated by the exceptionalist tendencies in US domestic and foreign policy in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. At least in the first wave of reception of Agamben’s writings,1 his reinterpretation of Schmitt’s theory of sovereignty in the Foucauldian biopolitical key was the best-known and most controversial aspect of his work. And yet Schmitt has been a strange kind of influence. His work hardly influenced Agamben philosophically, as Heidegger’s and Benjamin’s did on the level of ontology or method. Agamben did not try to ‘correct or complete’ Schmitt the way he did with Foucault’s work on biopolitics and government. Finally, Agamben did not really debate with or criticise Schmitt’s theories the way he did with Derrida. While Schmitt’s political thought was certainly employed in a variety of ways after Homo Sacer, Schmitt was not really engaged with as a philosophical interlocutor.

Keywords:   Carl Schmitt, Biopolitics, Sovereignty, katechon

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