The debate on “political theology” that ran throughout the twentieth century has reached its end, but the ultimate meaning of the notion continues to evade us. Despite all the attempts to resolve the issue, we still speak its languagewe remain in its horizon.
The reason for this, says Roberto Esposito, lies in the fact that political theology is neither a concept nor an event; rather, it is the pivot around which the machine of Western civilization has revolved for more than 2,000 years. At its heart stands the juncture between universalism and exclusion, unity and separation: the tendency of the Two to make itself into One by subordinating one part to the domination of the other. All the philosophical and political categories that we use, starting with the Roman and Christian notion of “the person,” continue to reproduce this exclusionary dispositif.
To take our departure from political theology, thenthe task of contemporary philosophywe must radically revise our conceptual lexicon. Only when thought has been returned to its rightful “place”connected to the human species as a whole rather than to individualswill we be able to escape from the machine that has imprisoned our lives for far too long.
About the Author
Roberto Esposito is Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa. His many books in English include Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy and Two: The Machine of Political Theology and the Place of Thought (Fordham).
Zakiya Hanafi is the author of The Monster in the Machine: Magic, Medicine, and the Marvelous in the Time of the Scientific Revolution. Her most recent book translation is Simona Forti’s New Demons: Rethinking Power and Evil Today. This is the fourth book by Roberto Esposito that she has translated into English.
Table of Contents
2. The dispositif of the person
Passage: Nexum (economic theology I)
3. The Place of Thought
Passage: Sovereign debt (economic theology II)