Persons and ThingsFrom the Body's Point of View
Persons and Things
From the Body's Point of View

What is the relationship between persons and things? And how does the body transform this relationship? In this highly original new book, Roberto Esposito - one of Italy’s leading political philosophers - considers these questions and shows that starting from the body, rather than from the thing or the person, can help us to reconsider the status of both.

Ever since its beginnings, our civilization has been based on a strict, unequivocal distinction between persons and things, founded on the instrumental domination of persons over things. This opposition arose out of ancient Roman law and persisted throughout modernity, to take its place in our current global market, where it continues to generate growing contradictions. Although the distinction seems to appear clear and necessary to us, what we are continually witnessing in legal, economic, and technological practice is a reversal of perspectives: some categories of persons are becoming assimilated with things, while some types of things are taking on a personal profile.

With his customary rigour, Roberto Esposito argues that there exists an escape route out of this paradox, constituted by a new point of view founded in the body. Neither a person nor a thing, the human body becomes the decisive element in rethinking the concepts and values that govern our philosophical, legal, and political lexicons.

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  • May 2015
  • 144 pages
  • 129 x 197 mm / 5 x 8 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $52.00
  • 9780745690643
  • Paperback $12.95
  • 9780745690650
  • Open eBook $10.00
  • 9780745690681
Table of Contents


I. Persons


The Great Division

Two in One

Use and Abuse


II. Things

The Nothing of the Thing


Words and Things

The Value of Things

Das Ding

III. Bodies

The Status of the Body

The Power of the Body

To Exist the Body

The Soul of Things

Political Bodies

About the Author
Roberto Esposito is Professor of the History of Political Thought at the University of Naples
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Continuing his elaboration of the dispositive of person first set out in Third Person, philosopher Roberto Esposito turns his attention in this new book to the often troubled relation between human being and thing. The result is not only a wondrous reading of the semantics of the person and thing. but also an invitation to consider ?the living body? of multitudes as a possible response. Working across the fields of political philosophy and law, Persons and Things offers the reader dazzling perspectives on person as thing and thing as person. This, quite simply, is a brilliant book.
Timothy Campbell, Cornell University

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