Study Guide

Giorgio Agamben Biography

Basic Information

Name

Giorgio Agamben

Nickname

Doctor Doom, The Italian Stallion, Rocky the Rock Star Theorist, Passionate Politico, Public Enemy, and The Greatest Thing to Happen to Philosophy Since Aristotle

Sex

Male

Home town

I was born in Rome and have taught all over, including in Paris, Venice, Verona, and Saas-Fee, Switzerland. In 2004, I told NYU thanks but no thanks because I was against the way the U.S. gathered biometric information on all foreign visitors. That was after I had held visiting positions at a number of U.S. institutions, though, including the University of California, Berkeley.

Work & Education

Occupation

First and foremost, I am a Philosopher. Capital P, thanks. But my interests are broad, and my learning is deep. So if you know what's good for you, you'll take what I say about literature, linguistics, law, politics, the Bible, and art seriously, as well.

Education

I studied Law and Philosophy before completing my most important apprenticeship: post-doctoral work with my hero (and many other peoples' bête noire) Martin Heidegger. This dude's seminars really did change my life.

Beliefs

Political views

I oppose state power in all of its oppressive forms, but I have been especially vocal in opposing the War on Terror. I believe that the forcible entry of politics into the private lives—and even the bodily lives—of citizens is dangerous. Sadly, we see this kind of encroachment more and more these days, all over the place.

Religious views

It's complicated. I have a long-standing interest in the Old Testament and in Jewish mysticism, something I share with one of my biggest influences, the great Walter Benjamin. In my recent work, I have also had lots to say about the history of Christianity. But, as my readers have noticed, this doesn't mean that I'm simply advocating a return to religion. Far from it. I call in several places for a renewed practice of profanation. By this I don't mean just being obscene; I have in mind instead a new way of treating what society takes to be sacred, and touching what society takes to be untouchable. (See the relevant "Buzzwords" and "Quotes," sections for more on what I mean.)

Activities & Interests

Likes

Erudition
Ancient Languages
The Latin Empire Striking Back
Tradition
Whatever

Dislikes

Fingerprinting
The Patriot Act
George W. Bush and Friends
Optimism
Advertising

Interests

Poetry
Place Mats
Scholasticism
Mysticism
Toy Stories

Groups

Antiwar Agitators
Radical Philologists
Cult Leaders
Philosophers Who Played Apostles in Italian Movies