Is Man a ‘Sabbatical Animal?’ Giorgio Agamben, Franz Rosenzweig, and A.J. Heschel

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Bodek Lounge, First Floor Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Agamben’s claim that “man is a sabbatical animal” enlists the Judaic idea of Sabbath to limit the 24/7 temporality of capitalism under neoliberalism. He affiliates the idea of Sabbath — the day of rest — with his ontology of inoperativity, of which schole, the Greek notion of leisure, is another instance. These suspensions of work are joined together by Agamben and juxtaposed to instrumentality or “use", as such. This paper interrogates Agamben’s claims, putting him into dialogue with Judaic ideas of Sabbath explored by Franz Rosenzweig and A.J. Herschel. Further, the paper argues for the necessary co-implication of the weekly Sabbath with the other sabbaths —  land sabbatical, debt sabbatical and the emancipatory Jubilee — whose aimed is not only temporary relief from work or injustice, but the periodic re-establishment of equality.

Bonnie Honig is Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science at Brown University, and Affiliated Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation, Chicago. She is a prize-winning author of several books, including: Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell 1993; Scripps Prize, 1994), Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton, 2001), Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (2009) (co-winner of the David Easton Prize), and Antigone, Interrupted (Cambridge, 2013). Editor and co-editor of several collections, her most recent (with Lori Marso) is Politics, Theory, and Film: Critical Encounters with Lars von Trier, (Oxford University Press, Aug., 2016). Currently, she is finishing a book called Pubic Things (fc 2017, Fordham University Press series Thinking Out Loud) and working on a new one called The Lost Sabbath.

Sponsored by Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and Cosponsored by the Jewish Studies Program and the Department of History. This is the 20th Annual Meyerhoff Lecture.

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