The Perspective of the Multitude. Agamben, Machiavelli, Negri, Spinoza, Virno

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In this thesis I focus on the concept of the multitude as put forward by the philosophers Negri, Agamben and Virno in the debate on democracy, capitalism and forms of rule. These thinkers all start from the experience of the operaismo and the ideas of conricerca, shaped in the Italian revolutionary movement of the 60s and 70s.
Since the concept of the multitude was launched with the publication in the early 80s of his book on Spinoza, it is Negri who takes up a key position, delineating an alternative modernity that begins with Machiavelli, is corroborated by Spinoza and leads to Marx and beyond. He shapes new paradigms, serves as a leading example in appropriating concepts of the cultural tradition, links criticism and resistance to the imagination, collective subjectivity and creativity. Negri adopts the perspective of the multitude in light of a radical democracy or a communism. Within Spinoza's paradigm he posits 'the common' based on a multiplicity of differences rather than on identity. Crucial are the idea of cause as a convergence of factors, the role of the imagination, the profanation of religion, the junction of love, art and politics, the procedure of reversal, the antagonism between potentia (power of resistance) and potestas (institutional power). In Negri's work, Machiavelli's paradigm involving the concept of 'fortuna and virtù' meets with the Spinozian conception of cause.
In Agamben and Virno we see how attention shifts towards art and language practice. Agamben returns to the principles: he challenges teleological thinking, probes the paradigmatic method, the analogic, and profanation. He discovers the concept of the multitude in the early renaissance and Dante. Virno, on the other hand, explores applications of the teleological view, especially processes of labour. He exploits the concept of transduction to create a hypothetical creative knowledge, looks for the multitude in the ambiguous, undefined nature of human beings, and in the phenomenology of current forms of labour, forms of speech and forms of life.
Original languageDutch
Number of pages496
ISBN (Print)978-90-5487-822-3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Political Philosophy


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