A Philosophy for Europe: From the Outside
Author: Roberto Esposito
Polity Press, 2018,
In the last decades, Roberto Esposito has established himself as one of Italy’s most important and accessible thinkers – and is first and foremost known for his books on the meaning of the community: Immunitas and Communitas. To understand the workings of social units we need to understand immunity, because every society works like a group protected from a hostile environment. What appeared as a speculative philosophy of life in Schopenhauer and Nietzsche has been channelled through the works of Foucault, becoming a «biopolitical» theory. What is at stake is the condition of life itself, both for individual bodies and for the body politic.
Esposito also explicitly connects to Foucault’s «biopower» – connecting power with health, sexuality and death – as well as the late Heidegger’s thoughts on technology and nature. For Esposito the two world wars – the second in particular – are decisive. This was the time where Heidegger went through his darkest years, letting his own thoughts on time and destiny merge with the historical visions of Nazi-Germany. The world wars were also a setting in which the mechanical deployment of human lives and bodies rose up as the monstrous underbelly of civilisation. Europe’s crisis had long been latent in culture and thought, but now it manifested itself fully in a political and geographic sense – pulling the rest of the world with it into its turmoil.
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