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Philosophy without letters : Giorgio Agamben and Indigenous sovereignty


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Molad, J ORCID: 0000-0003-0836-7678 2019 , 'Philosophy without letters : Giorgio Agamben and Indigenous sovereignty', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis critically discusses the history of Ontology understood as the implication of ‘being’ within a semiotic and phonetic conception of language. Ontology owes its coherence as a cultural apparatus to the Ancient Greek transformation of the alphabet into a total system of vocalic notation – an unprecedented and revolutionary cultural project that rendered ‘language’ recognisable as an autonomous and hence fully analysable entity. Alphabetisation, in its ancient Greek form, was an originary apparatus of domination aimed at the colonisation of everyday speech for the sake of administration. My analysis shows that the dominance of the semiotic conception of language allows for the development of the science of Grammar and the foreclosure of any linguistic dimension resistant to total alphabetic phonetisation. Philosophy is the discourse that emerges alongside, meditates on the meaning and consequences of, and calls into question this epochal transformation of human speech.
Giorgio Agamben’s archaeology of Ontology shows that Aristotle’s Ontology also gave rise to the modern ‘scientific’ concept of ‘Life’ as a sacred political and cultural referent. The sanctity of ‘Life’ emerges alongside the birth of Ontology as a consequence of the way Aristotle naturalises the alphabet as the ultimate code of human speech. As a result, ‘Life’ as a unitary referent owes it coherence to a logical-political operation rather than a natural or religious one. Therefore, only an examination of the way in which Ontology is developed and functions can allow for a consideration of a different conception of language and life.
Despite pointing to the limit of a certain dominant conception of politics and language, Agamben’s philosophical practice remains within the orbit of Greek Ontology and Western nihilism. This fails to orient us in light of the immense challenges posed to settler societies faced with the claims of indigenous sovereignty. Agamben’s philosophy assist us in redrawing the boundaries of settler culture in order to better learn how to exit from it – therein lies the importance of studying his work in order to better understand the apparatuses governing our societies and conceptions of humanity. Ultimately, this will only show us the door without opening it for us. It is therefore necessary to move completely beyond the domain of Ontology as handed down by the philosophical tradition in order to make ourselves available for the only political practice that constitutes a task for our era: the development of conditions ripe for the reassertion of Indigenous Sovereignty.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Molad, J
Keywords: Philosophy, gamben, Alphabet, Indigenous Sovereignty, Ontology, Language
DOI / ID Number: 10.25959/100.00033227
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Copyright 2019 the author

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