The Political Philosophy of Human Life: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Political Philosophy of Human Life

1st Edition

By Piergiorgio Donatelli


224 pages

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Hardback: 9781138048164
pub: 2018-11-30

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This book addresses the notion of ‘human life’ that lies at the foundation of contemporary thinking in the areas of law, politics and ethics. Centrally, it engages the deep divide, characteristic of this thinking, between: on the one hand, those who wish to do away with any anthropological understandings of the human, and appeal to mere facts delivered by science; and, on the other hand, critics who defend an anthropological understanding of human life that is tied to traditional, teleological, metaphysics. In short: knowledge of the world is given over to the sciences and moral theory is considered to operate in a distinct, and insulated, domain. But this opposition has, Pierregiorgio Donatelli argues here, outlived its usefulness. Through a discussion of the intimate human spheres of reproduction, dying and sexuality, he argues that we now live in a world characterised by new ways of living: by novel rearrangements of emotions, and by the modification, and in some cases a radical rupture in, existing ideas of human life. These shifts challenge any established separation between facts and norms, between human life and its conceptualisation. As such, it is argued here, they simultaneously offer the possibility of a new, socially articulated, understanding of the relationship between subjectivity and normativity.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Reversing normative dispositifs

Chapter 2. Liberals and conservatives: rethinking the clash

Chapter 3. Science and the space of ethics

Chapter 4. Frameworks

Chapter 5. The fight for freedom

Chapter 6. Sexuality, reproduction, death

About the Author

Piergiorgio Donatalli is Professor of Philosophy at Sapienza Universita di Roma

About the Series

Law and Politics

Continental Perspectives

A core legacy of the Continental juridico-political tradition is the methodological commitment to the idea that law and politics are inextricably tied to one another. On the one hand, law has to be studied in the light of the concrete political dynamics, social forces, and societal movements that make law what it is. On the other hand, the analysis of political processes should be coupled with the study of the legal techniques through which politics exerts its effects on social reality.
The series aspires to promote works that use the nexus 'law & politics' as a prism that allows understanding societal dynamics beyond the deep-seated borders separating purely legal from purely political methodologies. It welcomes theoretically informed and empirically grounded analyses that foster the development of theory in the study of juridico-political processes.

The qualifier 'Continental' signifies not so much a geographical or socio-historical feature as a methodological one. The approach that the series aims to promote, regardless of the nationality of prospective authors, materializes at the intersection between the vocabularies and methodologies of legal and political theories. In other words, the starting point of this approach is that the interplay between legal and political processes provides a precious lens to observe and comprehend contemporary societal phenomena.

More specifically, submissions exploring the following themes are welcomed:

  • The relationship between the legal and the political spheres from a theoretical, historical and/or empirical point of view.
  • The transformation of sovereignty.
  • The transformation of the state and the rise of non-state political and organizational structures that break the ties with modern statehood.
  • Exceptionalism and emergency at the domestic and/or the global level.
  • The downfall of conventional juridico-political binaries: public/private, state/civil society, domestic/international, religious/secular and others.
  • Current transformations of formal constitutions and the separation of powers.
  • Issues related to the increasing spread of legal pluralism and global legal pluralism.
  • Strategies and politics of legal elites and the new role of judicial bodies both nationally and internationally.
  • Analyses of key Continental authors who have brought to light the materiality of the law, such as Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Marcel Gauchet, Antonio Gramsci, Jurgen Habermas, Reinhart Koselleck, Antonio Negri, Carl Schmitt and others.
  • Analyses of key Continental "classics" whose voice is unheard or underrepresented in the Anglophone academic and publishing environment, such as Walter Benjamin, Leon Duguit, Georges Gurvitch, Maurice Hauriou, Hermann Heller, Georg Jellinek, Ernst Junger, Costantino Mortati, Georges Renard, Santi Romano, Rudolf Smend, Simone Weil and others.

This interdisciplinary series welcomes monographs and edited volumes that engage with the conceptual and empirical questions detailed above and discussions of how the contamination of jurisprudential and theoretical-political approaches helps illuminate current national and global processes.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Jurisprudence
LAW / Judicial Power
PHILOSOPHY / Political
PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Post-Structuralism
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory