Introduction to the Reading of Agamben For Lacanian Clinical Practice

Giorgio Agamben’s early characterization of coronavirus in Italy as an “invented epidemic” generating a “frenetic, irrational and entirely unfounded governmental response” has been roundly—and rightly—disparaged as dangerously delusional.

Yet the philosopher’s work raises questions about historical conditions already in place long before the crisis which should be of urgent concern to psychoanalysts working today, trends now intensified or accelerated as a result of the global pandemic: the widespread and ever-increasing imposition of “states of exception” allowing police, security and surveillance operations outside of legal strictures; the reduction of vast populations to the conditions of “bare” or “naked life”; the elevation of scientific knowledge to something akin to a new religion; and the proliferation of alternative reality scenarios and conspiracy theories in the absence of the “dogmatic authority” or founding prohibitive/legislative function that Lacan termed the “name of the father.”

Agamben’s writings on politics, literature, theology and philology pose a rich counterpoint to the Lacanian corpus, offering avenues for new readings, interpretations and applications of familiar constructs. This short, intensive online seminar will provide an opportunity for those versed in Lacanian methods to explore key concepts and lines of inquiry drawn from Agamben, with a particular eye to the challenges and opportunities for psychoanalytic practice at the current historical juncture, a time in which the detention site or concentration camp—an “order without localization,” “localization without order” or “permanent state of exception to the law”—has become “the hidden matrix of politics.”

The group will analyze selections from key texts including Homo Sacer, Means Without End, Profanations, The Coming Community, Nudities, What is an Apparatus, The Fire and the Tale and What is Real, alongside selections from Lacan’s seminars and écrits.

Four consecutive weekly sessions from 5:00—7:00 p.m. PST, beginning September 2, 2020. Enrollment limited: for more information contact Ben Davidson (

Faculty: Benjamin Davidson, PhD
Dates and Time: Wednesdays 5:00-7:00PM PST, beginning Sept. 2, 2020.
Location: Online
Contact: Benjamin Davidson, PhD at
Fees: Free of charge