In Homo Sacer, Giorgio Agamben suggests that Herman’s Melville’s ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ offers the ‘strongest objection against the principle of sovereignty’. As Agamben sees it, refugees pose a limit to the political categories of Melville’s famous story “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” which is a recurrent. From Giorgio Agamben’s Potentialities. The Scribe, or On Creation 1. The Byzantine lexicon Suda describes Aristotle this way: “Aristotle was.

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And finally, there is a complete potentiality that belongs to someone who has full knowledge of writing in the moment that they are not writing. First, there is a potentiality which he calls material which is like a child who cannot now, but will someday, be able to write.

The question is, though, why would this hopelessness express itself in this way and not another. Aristotle insists that nous has no nature other than being potential, and before thinking, it is nothing.

Agamben5. The three parts of this grapheme represent first the descent of potential Being to the attribute, then the extension battleby the attribute toward actuality, and finally the descent of actuality toward manifestation.

Literature and Philosophy: Deleuze, Agamben and Rancière reading Melville’s “Bartleby”.

Contingency is replaced by necessity or impossibility. Does this renewal remain within sovereignty? If thought already had a form, like a tablet has a form, then it would appear in the intelligible object and thinking could not take place. The left wing is tinged with darkness, and is turned towards his capacity not to be.

Brtleby Scotus says that if there is a contradiction between two actual realities, being P and not-being P, nothing keeps a thing from being actual and maintaining its potential to not be or be otherwise. It is this supremacy of will over potentiality that Bartleby throws in question.

You are commenting using your WordPress. Importantly, however, even that leaves us with something that can still be recognized as a story — and perhaps, given that the narrator is also a lawyer, also as a law.


Thought, if it thinks nothing, seems to be pointless. The will, like the Freudian unconscious, is the only thing bartlebt from the principle of noncontradiction.

There could be no clearer way to suggest that undelivered letters are the cipher of joyous events that could have been, but never took place.

But likewise, to hold to Being and necessary positivity is also difficult; it always has a complicity with this nihilism. If potentiality were only ever the potential to do or be something, we would never experience as potentiality—it would only exist in the actuality it is realized in.

The Cabalists pushed this to its limit and said that the Nothing from which everything comes is God himself. To hold to non-Being is difficult and is the characteristic experience of nihilism. The Scribe, or On Creation 1. In the same act of will, God wills contraries; he does not will that they exist together bartlebby this is impossiblebut he nevertheless wills them at the same time.

The falasifain contrast, remained true to Aristotle: This site uses cookies. That line is a modification of Romans 7: Agamben concludes this passage by saying.

And if it thinks something, then that something is superior, because the thing would determine it. However, potentiality is the most difficult thing to think. On the other hand, there is also a Jewish polemic against the idea, attributed to philosophers, that it is impossible for God to have created the world from nothing accord to the principle from nothing nothing bartlehy.

Share Bartleby, Refugee, Sovereignty. In that concrete sense, a renewed sovereignty may be a better place to start than no sovereignty at all. In the same way, it is through a single intuition or a single science that he knows that contraries do not exist together and that, nevertheless, they are known together in the same cognitive act, which is one single act.


The second principle is conditioned necessitywhich limits contingency with respect to actuality. Abulafia knew Aristotle through Arabic translations and commentaries, which paid close attention to the problem of the relation between the passive and active intellect. Home About Contact Us. This line of thought that the Nothing is a kind of hartleby runs through Jewish, Islamic, Christian, and Aamben accounts.

But surely the most immediate need of the actual refugees is for some political arrangement that would accommodate them. Emancipating itself from Being and non-Being alike, potentiality thus creates its own ontology.

He quotes Wolff again: All potential to be or to do something is also the potential bartlfby not be or do something, and without this, all potentiality would be indistinguishable from actuality.

Bartleby, Refugee, Sovereignty – The Philosophical Salon

You Might Also Like. Hence, the mind is not a thing, but a being of pure potential. He does not redeem what was, but to save what was not. The fire does not burn the baartleby itself; God establishes the coincidence of the case and the effect.

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It is thinks potentiality that allows thought to take place. The Sunnite Ghazali had to return to the image of the scribe in his Revival of the Religious Sciences: For to do so, he must close his own ears to the incessant lamentation that, throughout the infinite chambers of this Baroque bartlebt of potentiality, arises from everything that could have been but was not, from everything that could have been otherwise but had to be sacrificed for the present world to be as it is.

Maimonides argued for the truth of creation ex nihilo in hartleby Guide for the Perplexed.