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Title: Giorgio Agamben's 'Messianic Fulfilment' of Foundationalism in Politics
Author(s): MIHKELSAAR, Janar
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 76    Issue: 1   Date: 2014   
Pages: 59-85
DOI: 10.2143/TVF.76.1.3017240

Abstract :
The present article examines the breakdown of the metaphysical tradition that makes visible a gap between the impossibility of an ultimate foundation and the necessity of foundation. This gap, particularly noticeable in the impossibility and necessity of a social totality, is resolved in political acts of grounding that generate contingent foundations. Political grounding is a never-ending task without any final fulfilment, insofar as it cannot render the differential field of the social fully transparent. In Laclau’s (and subsequently Marchart’s) post-foundational idea of politics, the metaphysical concept of foundation is nullified but kept operative. Giorgio Agamben proposes an approach that extinguishes the nullified foundationalism. In doing so, however, he does not fall prey to anti-foundationalism because the concept of foundation is not simply negated but fulfilled messianically. For Agamben, this ‘messianic fulfilment’, concomitant with every post-foundational act of grounding, involves ‘retrieval’ and ‘revocation’. A grounding act is ‘retrieved’ when it gives itself back to itself through the complete actualization of its impotentiality; this realized impotentiality, which is indistinguishable from actuality, ‘revokes’ grounding. Finally, I argue that politics, insofar as it is the sphere of gesturality, is a proper locus of messianic fulfilment.

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