The Origin of Agamben’s Infancy

Doussan, Jenny. 2013. 'The Origin of Agamben’s Infancy'. In: Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA 2013). University of Toronto, Canada 4 - 7 April 2013. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

In his foreword to Infancy and History: The Destruction of Experience (1978), written ten years after its first publication, Giorgio Agamben states, “In both my written and unwritten books, I have stubbornly pursued only one train of thought: what is the meaning of ‘there is language’; what is the meaning of ‘I speak’?” Infancy, which gives the book its title, is among Agamben’s early attempts at addressing this question. This paper will reconstruct this concept, identify the infantile tendency as a recurrent critique of instrumentality that is founded on the premise of a foundational violence inherent to representation, and elucidate in light of this thought, that of Austrian philosopher Franz Brentano, best known as author of Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint of 1874.
This pairing is not quite so unlikely as it may at first seem. Brentano, who was the teacher of Husserl who was the teacher of Heidegger who was the teacher of Agamben himself, is the direct forerunner of the phenomenological tradition that Agamben has inherited and is thus something of an invisible ancestor to his thought.

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Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Visual Cultures


5 April 2013Completed

Event Location:

University of Toronto, Canada

Date range:

4 - 7 April 2013

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Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2024 11:28

Last Modified:

19 Jun 2024 11:28


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