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Passivity or Receptivity

What Motivates the Political Philosophies of Jean-Luc Nancy and Giorgio Agamben?

Neumann, Daniel

Phänomenologische Forschungen, Bd. 2021 (2021), Iss. 1: S. 148–168

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Neumann, Daniel


This article reconsiders a critique of Jean-Luc Nancy’s and Giorgio Agamben’s political philosophies as passive and unpractical. The article argues that in both cases, the political philosophy is motivated by the concept of “withdrawal of law,” as outlined in the texts Abandoned Being and Homo Sacer, respectively. This withdrawal is shown to situate the political philosophies within a broader “phenomenological receptivity,” whose indebtedness to Heidegger’s philosophy of the event is elucidated. As a consequence, the term receptivity turns out to possibly be the better candidate for describing both philosophers’ political outlook, as opposed to passivity. Thus, instead of reproaching Nancy’s and Agamben’s theories for not providing the means for practical political interventions, the implicit phenomenological perspective they offer is restituted.


Section Title Page Action Price
Daniel Neumann\nPassivity or Receptivity 147
Abstract 147
Introduction 147
1. The Other Side of Law 149
2. Emergent Anarchy 154
3. Necessity and Receptivity 159