Intention and Exception: A Critique of the Work of Giorgio Agamben

Doussan, Jenny. 2011. Intention and Exception: A Critique of the Work of Giorgio Agamben. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In Giorgio Agamben’s work over the past thirty years, touching upon fields as diverse as poetry and governance, can be read the persistent concern with what he terms “the taking place of language,” which comes to stand for the condition of Western metaphysics. This concern, founded in the theory of the double significance of language advanced by Émile Benveniste, extends in Agamben’s thought from the linguistic to the political, in which it is articulated in terms of the exception, the subject of that illicit intellectual exchange between Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt. Alternatively, Agamben also speaks of the taking place of language in terms of intentionality, a concept revived from Scholastic philosophy by Franz Brentano, a principal influence upon Agamben’s own principal influence Martin Heidegger. Brentano’s regeneration of intentionality directly paved the way for twentieth-century phenomenology, but his insistence on the likeness of philosophy and science, the organization of concepts into a classificatory system, and his animosity towards the linguistic have all arguably contributed to the restriction of his work to the margins of contemporary thought. How do these two notions, therefore, exception and intention, converge in Agamben’s thought, and what bearing does this confluence have upon Brentano’s largely forgotten original articulation of the concept? This thesis establishes an original reading of Agamben’s thought by tracing the evolution of the taking place of language in its multifarious appearances in his corpus, and locates an implicit correspondence between the thinker and his invisible predecessor.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


agamben, brentano, exception, intentionality, deconstruction, eternal return,

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


9 June 2011

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Jan 2012 15:31

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:25


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