Foucault and Agamben on Augustine, Paradise and the Politics of Human Nature
Prozorov, S. (2023). Foucault and Agamben on Augustine, Paradise and the Politics of Human Nature. Theory, Culture and Society, OnlineFirst. https://doi.org/10.1177/02632764221140811
Published inTheory, Culture and Society
© The Author(s) 2023
This article focuses on Foucault’s and Agamben’s readings of Augustine’s account of human nature and original sin. Foucault’s analysis of Augustine’s account of sexual acts in paradise, subordinated to will and devoid of lust, highlights the way it constitutes the model for the married couple, whose sexual acts are only acceptable if diverted by the will away from desire and towards the tasks of procreation. While Agamben rejects Augustine’s doctrine of original sin and reclaims paradise as the original homeland of humanity, his reappropriation of paradise remains conditioned by our turn towards our true nature, from which we have been estranged by sin. Agamben’s politics of reclaiming paradise necessarily involves the demand for obedience to this originary model of human nature. It therefore follows to the letter Augustine’s description of paradisiacal sex, in which the will prevails over desire by applying itself to and curtailing itself.
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