Giorgio Agamben's work first achieved international recognition—and notoriety—through his study of the sacred in Homo Sacer. This recognition and notoriety grew with the subsequent installments in this still ongoing series, Remnants of Auschwitz (Homo Sacer III), State of Exception (Homo Sacer II.1), and The Kingdom and the Glory (Homo Sacer II.2). Agamben's recent work, Profanations, is, however, not a part of that series. As its title indicates, it turns from the sacred to the profane, and in so doing reveals the most profound intentions of Agamben's philosophy. Agamben's naming the profane rather than the sacred in the title of this work does not, however, represent a turn to a new topic. Beginning with his first books in the 1970s, he has shown himself deeply interested in the idea of the profane, in significant part through terms and concepts employed by Walter Benjamin such as “profane illumination” and “the order of the profane.” In his Homo Sacer project, this idea of the profane has followed Agamben's studies of the sacred like a shadow. With this new work, however, it has moved to the center of his reflections and in doing offers his reader a glimpse of hitherto unseen elements in his personal trajectory, his philosophical vocation, and his political project. The works in the Homo Sacer series have compellingly and persuasively argued that the creating of sacred and sovereign states of exception has often been responsible for the dire states of political affairs we find ourselves in. Profanations seeks to offer a solution.
Leland de la Durantaye; Homo Profanus: Giorgio Agamben's Profane Philosophy. boundary 2 1 August 2008; 35 (3): 27–62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2008-011
Download citation file: