The Politics of Holiness (MT22)

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Professor Gavin Flood FBA
Date: November 24, 2022
Time: 2.00pm – 3.00pm
Lectures: A Phenomenology of Holiness:

These lectures will inquire into what we mean by ‘holiness’ by focussing on discussion in Phenomenology and Hermeneutics. This is not a theological inquiry but an anthropological and philosophical inquiry that seeks to argue for the necessity of understanding human life in terms of holiness and for understanding holiness in terms of human life.

Lecture 3: The Politics of Holiness

A different theoretical trajectory understands holiness in political terms and reduces holiness to a purely transactional notion constructed within a power dynamic that has played out through the history of civilization, to its cost. On this view, we must understand holiness primarily as a legal categoryIn this lecture we will examine a philosophical anthropology of the political human that begins, as Esposito argues glossing Schmitt, with a negation, with a lack: the lack being that which is sought after, perhaps possessed by the other, in a process starting from enmity. This negation that is the beginning of politics is articulated in legal systems at the root of the Western tradition in Roman law where, as Esposito observes, a free human being was defined negatively as someone who is not a slave, being under one’s own legal authorityAgamben goes further to bring holiness purely within the political realm and claims that holiness as sacrality‘the sacred man’ (homo saceris defined negatively as the category of the man who can be killed but not sacrificed: namely the state of exception. But is this to ignore holiness as verticality and openness?