LOGICAL GRAMMAR VS UNREVISABLE CONCEPTS: Agamben, the Covid-19 virus, and the leap of logic


Giorgio Agamben has expressed himself on the State reactions to the Covid-19 epidemic one more time. His own reaction is scientifically uninformed, morally and religiously untenable, and politically dangerous. He is unable to correct the scope of his concepts by including them in a wider paradigm.


His reaction is scientifically uninformed because he continues to conflate, implicitly here in this new article but explicitly in his earlier pieces, mortality and surplus mortality. The death rate from Covid-19 infection is significantly higher than that for a simple flu, but the surplus mortality from overflowing the hospitals with cases whose lives could have been saved if they arrived piecemeal is much much higher.


It is morally untenable for reasons tied to this first point concerning Agamben’s scientific illiteracy: he cites the example of Saint Francis embracing the lepers. The dis-analogy is flagrant: one cannot get leprosy from casual social contact or propinquity with someone affected by the disease. However, with Covid-19 you can become infected from casual contact with a surface that has been in casual contact with someone bearing the virus, even without symptoms.


It is religiously untenable for the same reason: if by kissing a few Covid « lepers » Francis had decimated not only his own town but ultimately his whole country he would not be considered a « saint ». The virtue of charity is no blind sentimental effusion.


Covid-19 is a disease requiring a response of a higher logical type than for leprosy, hence Agamben’s confusions and conflations – he is incapable of, or perhaps unwilling to, make the logical leap that we are all required to make in this new situation.


Agamben’s article is politically dangerous. He talks of « a risk that it was not possible to specify », ignoring that the « risk » has in fact constantly been specified and quantified, but in statistical terms that seem to surpass his numerical imagination and understanding. Millions of unnecessary deaths is specific enough.


Agamben will be 78 years old next week. People all over Italy are staying isolated so that he and people like him (the elderly and those with illnesses that render them particularly fragile in the face of the virus) can remain alive and in good health. Yet he sees no ethical value in that, he feels and expresses no gratitude.


The good old time of the divide between the Two Cultures (between the sciences and the humanities) is long gone. Science without humanity (ethics) is barbarism, but humanity without science is criminal. For all his conceptual power, Agamben does not help us take the (logical) leap.

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7 commentaires pour LOGICAL GRAMMAR VS UNREVISABLE CONCEPTS: Agamben, the Covid-19 virus, and the leap of logic

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  5. landzek dit :

    I think I read this post of yours a couple weeks ago or some thing and I feel like I replied to it but I can’t remember what the reply was.

    But so I’m reading your posts after this and so I can see that you’re kind of challenging yourself or in the struggle to grasp the COVID-19 phenomenon.

    I am reading your posts and I see there’s some sort of struggle with that I can’t really put my finger on, and it seems like you’re saying the same thing about yourself.

    So I had to re-read this article on this post, and honestly, I’m not really sure what the hell he’s talking about or two or really what comments he was making on anything, so foreign is his if you upon the situation to me .It’s kind of astounding actually to me to try and deal with what he saying because I don’t even know where to begin, kind of.

    It seems to me that he is trapped in a certain type of philosophy of transcendence, but as though this transcendence gives him some insight into what is not transcendent? Or he feels that in his position of somehow communing with a legitimate transcendence there by the phenomenology of Covid that allows him to make some sort of valid comments.

    It’s really strange to me and I kind of feel the tension going on in your posts here.

    For me, I would say that Covid represents ourselves in the sense of its pure randomness. And that the attempt to say something about the distance involved between just the pure universal occurrence and our own human idea of ratio—

    It’s difficult for me to really say anything about that except to point to, as I talk about, the two routes.

    It is as though this perfectly universally valid occurrence signifies how the human intellectual ratio philosophically is insufficient in its traditional bearings.

    And yet, these traditional bearings still try to negotiate with one another while attempting to say something which intuitively should fall outside of tradition.

    Ambigen He is really disappointing me. Even while you point out that he seems to advocate for some sort of “new religion” that will bring humanity together -/or whatever I forget what exactly it said. I tend to Agree with that, but I feel that the manner that he attempts to propose philosophical theory about it it’s just going to refi to peoples ideas that religion a common religion hast to stay out of the picture for those who are antagonistic to religion, while confirming to those who are already religious that indeed what he says should be the case.

    Interesting topic Terrence.


  6. landzek dit :

    Dammit! The voice dictation really did not accurately reproduce some of the things I said. And I can’t go back and edit it. Sorry. I hope you can get the jest of what I was trying to say.


  7. landzek dit :

    Jist. Not jest. Cursed technology !!


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