The Signature of All Things: On Method
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The Signature of All Things is Giorgio Agamben's sustained reflection on method. To reflect on method implies for Agamben an archaeological vigilance: a persistent form of thinking in order to expose, examine, and elaborate what is obscure, unanalyzed, even unsaid, in an author's thought. To be archaeologically vigilant, then, is to return to, even invent, a method attuned to a "world supported by a thick weave of resemblances and sympathies, analogies and correspondences." Collecting a wide range of authors and topics in a slim but richly argued volume, Agamben enacts the search to create a science of signatures that exceeds the attempts of semiology and hermeneutics to determine the pure and unmarked signs that signify univocally, neutrally, and eternally. Three conceptual figures organize Agamben's argument and the advent of his new method: the paradigm, the signature, and archaeology. Each chapter is devoted to an investigation of one of these concepts and Agamben carefully constructs its genealogy transhistorically and from an interdisciplinary perspective. And at each moment of the text, Agamben pays tribute to Michel Foucault, whose methods he rethinks and effectively uses to reformulate the logic of the concepts he isolates. The Signature of All Things reveals once again why Agamben is one of the most innovative thinkers writing today.
at this stage as an exorcism or initiation which is so important [ex similitudine). efficacy, such that it signifies by means of institutions, ignated a moment within the process of baptism, which appears that in the texts where Augustine The sign the sacrament more, the sign may signify the thing, but not confer it [coiferre). only des- rite. And it is Significant the difference and even with respect to the sign. He writes: signifies by means of an institution represents together
the more individual Following in the footsteps of Enrico Castelnuovo, the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg compares of this reemergence, Mesopotamian divination of identification defines as "evidential" Ginzburg's to Freud, to art history. that Ginzburg reconstructs essay spans from from forensic an epistemological (indiziario) cases, situations, to recall paradigm that he in order to distinguish it from "highly quali- in which the object is the study of individual and
functions the strict sense: it is a singular to identify. PARADIGM? to its as a paradigm in object that, standing ..all others of the same class, defines the intelligibility equally for of the group of which it is a part and which, at the same time, it constitutes. 5 Anyone who has read Discipline Consider the notion of panopticism, in the panopticon, situated as it is at the end of the section on disci- is a par- pline, performs a decisive strategic function the third part of
Foucault, de sacr!ficio et magia ... MarsiJjo Ficinoj1orentino interprete (Venice: Aldi, 1516), P: 7. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1970), P: Le pape et les sorciers: Une consultation de Jean XXII sur la magie en 1320 (manuscript B.A.V. Borghese 348) (Rome: Ecole Francaise de A. M. Sheridan Smith 84. 69. lbid., p. 88. 70. lbid., p. 86. 46. lbid., p. 35. 47. Alain Boureau, Words upon Words, trans. Olivia Emmet (New Haven, 66. Jean Starobinski, 43. Ibid., P: 87· 71. • lbid., pp.
Ernst, 16. Kantorowicz, Kepler, Johannes, Koyre, Alexandre, Kuhn, Adalbert, Kuhn, Thomas LANDRU) Leibniz, 40. 12. Luzzatto, Moshe Meyerson, 87. 12. 30. USEN 41-42. AQUINAS, 37, 64. ER, VALERY, Nikolai, 71. l.-JERMANN, i oo , 91. PAUL, Friedrich Theodor, Weber, 63. ORIGEN, 88. II. 69-70. Franz, 78-82, 66,74· Parry, Milman, 27. Pasquale, 21-24, 13. 27, 62. Prod us, 48. Paolo, 83. Ptolemy, II. RAlllNQW, 86-88. 31-38,40,43,47,53-54, PARACELSUS,