Venue du droit, la notion d'immunité occupe une place centrale en médecine. Tout comme le système immunitaire du corps humain protège l'organisme contre les incursions mortelles de virus, la loi garantit la survie de la communauté dans une situation la mettant en péril. Le droit protège et prolonge la vie. Mais comme le corps individuel, le corps collectif ne peut être immunisé contre le danger qu'en permettant à une certaine quantité de ce qui le menace d'y pénétrer. Pour échapper aux griffes de la mort, la vie est obligée d'incorporer en elle un principe mortel et de créer des anticorps. Le commun ne peut être préservé que s'il intègre en son sein un corps étranger, qui l'expose à un risque permanent.
Dans ce livre, qui mêle les lexiques juridique et politique à ceux de la théologie, de l'anthropologie et de la biologie, Roberto Esposito propose une analyse de la biopolitique contemporaine d'une extrême actualité. Aujourd'hui, les processus d'immunisation comme la demande de vaccination - mêlée de crainte - caractérisent tous les aspects de notre existence. Plus les individus et les sociétés se sentent sur le point d'être infectés par des corps étrangers, plus ils se renferment ou sont confinés dans leurs limites protectrices, qu'il s'agisse des murs de nos appartements ou des frontières de nos États. À une issue immunitaire et finalement destructrice, peut-on imaginer une alternative fondée sur une nouvelle conception de la communauté ?
All discourses aimed at asserting the value of human life as such-whether philosophical, ethical, or political-assume the notion of personhood as their indispensable point of departure. This is all the more true today. In bioethics, for example, Catholic and secular thinkers may disagree on what constitutes a person and its genesis, but they certainly agree on its decisive importance: human life is considered to be untouchable only when based on personhood. In the legal sphere as well the enjoyment of subjective rights continues to be increasingly linked to the qualification of personhood, which appears to be the only one capable of bridging the gap between human being and citizen, right and life, and soul and body opened up at the very origins of Western civilization. The radical and alarming thesis put forward in this book is that the notion of person is unable to bridge this gap because it is precisely what creates this breach. Its primary effect is to create a separation in both the human race and the individual between a rational, voluntary part endowed with particular value and another, purely biological part that is thrust by the first into the inferior dimension of the animal or the thing. In opposition to the performative power of the person, whose dual origins can be traced back to ancient Rome and Christianity, Esposito pursues his strikingly original and innovative philosophical inquiry by inviting reflection on the category of the impersonal: the third person, in removing itself from the exclusionary mechanism of the person, points toward the orginary unity of the living being.
This book by Roberto Esposito - a leading Italian political philosopher - is a highly original exploration of the relationship between human bodies and societies. The original function of law, even before it was codified, was to preserve peaceful cohabitation between people who were exposed to the risk of destructive conflict. Just as the human body's immune system protects the organism from deadly incursions by viruses and other threats, law also ensures the survival of the community in a life-threatening situation. It protects and prolongs life. But the function of law as a form of immunization points to a more disturbing consideration. Like the individual body, the collective body can be immunized from the perceived danger only by allowing a little of what threatens it to enter its protective boundaries. This means that in order to escape the clutches of death, life is forced to incorporate within itself the lethal principle. Starting from this reflection on the nature of immunization, Esposito offers a wide-ranging analysis of contemporary biopolitics. Never more than at present has the demand for immunization come to characterize all aspects of our existence. The more we feel at risk of being infiltrated and infected by foreign elements, the more the life of the individual and society closes off within its protective boundaries, forcing us to choose between a self-destructive outcome and a more radical alternative based on a new conception of community.
What is the relationship between persons and things? And how does the body transform this relationship? In this highly original new book, Roberto Esposito - one of Italy's leading political philosophers - considers these questions and shows that starting from the body, rather than from the thing or the person, can help us to reconsider the status of both. Ever since its beginnings, our civilization has been based on a strict, unequivocal distinction between persons and things, founded on the instrumental domination of persons over things. This opposition arose out of ancient Roman law and persisted throughout modernity, to take its place in our current global market, where it continues to generate growing contradictions. Although the distinction seems to appear clear and necessary to us, what we are continually witnessing in legal, economic, and technological practice is a reversal of perspectives: some categories of persons are becoming assimilated with things, while some types of things are taking on a personal profile. With his customary rigour, Roberto Esposito argues that there exists an escape route out of this paradox, constituted by a new point of view founded in the body. Neither a person nor a thing, the human body becomes the decisive element in rethinking the concepts and values that govern our philosophical, legal, and political lexicons.
Amid a devastating economic crisis, two tragic events coming from the outside - the wave of immigration and Islamic terrorism - have radically changed the profile and significance of the space we call Europe. Given a paradigm leap of this sort, philosophical reflection is in a position to exert its creative power more than other types of knowledge. But this can only happen if it is able to go beyond its own lexical boundaries, by turning its gaze outside itself.
Here the leading Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito looks at how various strands of German, French, and Italian thought have achieved this outward turn and successfully captured international attention by breaking with the language of early nineteenth-century crisis philosophies. When analyzed from this novel perspective, the great texts of Adorno, Derrida, Foucault, and Deleuze, as well as works by the latest Italian thinkers, are cast in a new light. From the relationship and tension between them, reconstructed here with extraordinary theoretical sensitivity, a form of thought can arise that is equal to the challenges faced by Europe today.
This erudite and wide-ranging analysis of European thought in the light of the crises facing the continent today will appeal to students and scholars of philosophy, critical theory, and beyond.