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Chapter 1 constellates a group of thinkers—Kant, Marx, Foucault, Adorno, Kafka, and Paolo Virno—in order to theorize the central role that natural history plays, both as master category and driving force, in the development of a politics of crisis. For us, natural history is more than, or not only, the mutually negating dialectic it was for Adorno. Natural history indicates the movements of a physionomos detectable, for example, in the eternal perishing of groundlessness, in Kant’s indestructible and unforgettable will to revolution, in the ungovernable form-of-life enacted by Foucault’s “critical ontology of ourselves,” in the laws of fermentation that, according to Marx, govern even the capitalist and his products, and in two images taken from Kafka: the enigmatic comings and goings of the creature Odradek and the fanatical accountings of the bureaucrat-god Poseidon.

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