The Man Without Content

Front Cover
Stanford University Press, 1999 - Philosophy - 130 pages
9 Reviews
In this book, one of Italy's most important and original contemporary philosophers considers the status of art in the modern era. He takes seriously Hegel's claim that art has exhausted its spiritual vocation, that it is no longer through art that Spirit principally comes to knowledge of itself. He argues, however, that Hegel by no means proclaimed the "death of art" (as many still imagine) but proclaimed rather the indefinite continuation of art in what Hegel called a "self-annulling" mode.

With astonishing breadth and originality, the author probes the meaning, aesthetics, and historical consequences of that self-annulment. In essence, he argues that the birth of modern aesthetics is the result of a series of schisms--between artist and spectator, genius and taste, and form and matter, for example--that are manifestations of the deeper, self-negating yet self-perpetuating movement of irony.

Through this concept of self-annulment, the author offers an imaginative reinterpretation of the history of aesthetic theory from Kant to Heidegger, and he opens up original perspectives on such phenomena as the rise of the modern museum, the link between art and terror, the natural affinity between "good taste" and its perversion, and kitsch as the inevitable destiny of art in the modern era. The final chapter offers a dazzling interpretation of Dürer's Melancholia in the terms that the book has articulated as its own.

The Man Without Content will naturally interest those who already prize Agamben's work, but it will also make his name relevant to a whole new audience--those involved with art, art history, the history of aesthetics, and popular culture.


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Review: The Man Without Content (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)

User Review  - Nick - Goodreads

Wonderful short read on aesthetics. Challenges notions of how we perceive art and how aesthetic judgment and the act of creation has become oftentimes more important than the artwork itself. Second ... Read full review

Review: The Man Without Content (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)

User Review  - Goodreads

the first three quarters of this book were strong and most eloquently argued. I got a bit lost in the last quarter - first of all agamben assumes the reader can comprehend and follow ancient greek ... Read full review

All 6 reviews »


The Most Uncanny Thing i
Frenhofer and His Double
The Man of Taste and the Dialectic of the Split
The Cabinet of Wonder
Les jugements sur la poésie ont plus de valeur que la poésie
A SelfAnnihilating Nothing 1
Privation Is Like a Face
Poiesis and Praxis
The Original Structure of the Work of Art
The Melancholy Angel

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About the author (1999)

Giorgio Agamben is the author of more than fifteen books on topics ranging from aesthetics to poetics, ontology to political philosophy. He is best known for his Homo Sacer series. He recently retired from the Università Iuav di Venezia.

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