Biopolitics “The Pinocchio Theory”


Reading Roberto Esposito’s Bios has only confirmed my doubts about the whole discourse of what is today called “biopolitics.” Esposito’s book is a good one, in that it details, and clearly explains, what is meant by this term — but the effect of this has only been to strengthen my criticisms of the concept, or my sense of its inadequacy, when it comes to consider the role that “life,” or even just discourses about life, play in contemporary society.

Esposito traces both the ways that “life” — by which is meant the view of human beings as biological organisms, or the biological processes that human beings undergo, ie birth, growth, and death, sickness and health — has been caught up in politics (in the sense of being a subject, or object, of political practices, of political struggles, and of state power), and the ways that political theory has considered the meaning of “life.” This is a large field, as it includes, on the one hand, everything from medical interventions in the name of public health to Nazi practices of racial extermination; and on the other hand, philosophical concepts of the “body politic” and of the vitality of individuals, races, and peoples, in thought ever since the ancient Greeks, but especially in the span of time that extends from Hobbes, through Nietzsche, and on to 20th-century vitalism. This is a large amount of material to synthesize — and Esposito does it by tracing the lines in Western thought that lead towards and away from Nietzsche and Foucault, on the one hand, and the practices of the Nazi regime, on the other.                                  Link:


~ by blombladivinden on December 21, 2011.

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