Nonino Prize 2018 ‘Master of our time’

Giorgio Agamben



His inquiries, always in search of sources, range from language to metaphysics and from aesthetics to ethics. Giorgio Agamben defines himself as a follower, given his intense experiences with the flowering of free thinking; he builds on the example of Michel Foucault and of his ideas – he intuits a biopolitic and creates the concept of Homo Sacer, a human being whose life is sacred, meaning that it can be killed but not sacrificed; he traces an evolution, from an ancient man that “could” to a modern man that “wants”, and asserts himself above both human and divine laws, opening the way to an age of holocausts. To become visible, societies must struggle between two opposing principles: that of legal rights and that of anomie. Agamben often translates his philosophy into a pure poetry immersed in nature; listen to his own admirable description from his latest book, “Autoritratto nello studio”: “The grass is God. In the grass – in God – I can find all those whom I have loved. For the grass and in the grass and like the grass I have lived and will continue living”.

The prize is delivered by Antonio R. Damasio



Giorgio Agamben (1942) takes his law degree in 1965 at the University of Rome, with a thesis on Simone Weil’s political thought. In 1966 and in 1968, he takes part in seminars on Heraclitus and Hegel held by Martin Heidegger at Le Thor. In 1974 he moves to Paris; he teaches Italian as a lecturer at the University of Haute-Bretagne, he studies linguistics and medieval. Among the others he frequents Pierre Klossowski, Guy Debord and Italo Calvino. In 1974-75 thanks to Francis Yates he starts a research at the Warburg Institute in London and prepares his book Stanzas. Word and Phantasm in Western Culture (Einaudi 1977). After his return to Italy, from 1978 for Einaudi he supervises the Italian edition of the Complete Works of Walter Benjamin, of whom he finds important manuscript. From 1986 to 1993 he is the Directeur de programme at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris. From 1988 to 1992, he is associate professor of Aesthetics at the University of Macerata. From 1993 to 2003, he is associate professor of Aesthetics at the University of Verona. From 1994 he is regularly visiting Professor in American Universities. In 2033 he is appointed Distinguished professor at the New York University; he leaves the position as a gesture of protest against the control devices imposed to foreign citizens by the American Government (finger prints; booking). Starting from the Nineties his interests turn to political philosophy and the concept of biopolitics. Through a rereading of Aristotelian Politics and of the thought of Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt and Carl Schmitt, he elaborates a theory of the relation between right and life and a criticism of the concept of sovereignty that he develops in Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Einaudi 1995) the first volume of the series Homo sacer, which includes also State of Exception (Bollati Boringhieri); Stasis (Bollati Boringhieri); The Sacrament of Language; The Kingdom and the Glory (Bollati Boringhieri); Opus Dei (Bollati Boringhieri); Remnants of Auschwitz (Bollati Boringhieri). Among the works published with Bollati Boringheri we quote The Time that Remains (2000); Segnatura Rerum (2008) and Karman 2017. Among the works publisehd with Neri Pozza, whose collection “La Quarta prose” he is in charge of, we quote The Kingdom and the Glory (2005); The power of thought (2005); The Highest Poverty (2011); The Use of Bodies (2014); What is real? (2016). He edited the publication of Walter Benjamin’s book Baudelaire. A lyrical poet in the age of advanced capitalism (2012). Among the works published with Nottetempo Profanations (2005); The Church and the Kingdom (2010); Pulcinella (2015, new edition 2016), Autoritratto nello studio (2017) With Quodlibet he has published Bartelby (1993); The Man without Content (1994); Idea of prose (new incremented edition 2002-2013); Gusto (2015). His books have been translated into English; Spanish; German; French; Turkish; Arab; Greek; Portuguese; Russia; Norwegian; Swedish; Dutch; Slovenian; Croatian; Rumanian; Chinese; Japanese; Korean. In 2012 he was conferred the honorary degree in Theology at the University of Freiburg where he held the lecture Mysterium iniquitatis later published in a volume with the title of The Mystery of Greek evil (Laterza 2013).