Time for Business: Business Ethics, Sustainability, and Giorgio Agamben's 'Messianic Time'


Contemporary business continues to intensify its radical relation to time. The New York Stock Exchange recently announced that in pursuing (as traders call it) the ‘race to zero’ they will begin using laser technology originally developed for military communications to send information about trades nearly at the speed of light. This is just one example of short-term temporal rhythms embedded in the practices of contemporary firms which watch their stock price on an hourly basis, report their earnings quarterly, and dissolve future consequences and costs through discounting procedures. There is reason to believe that these radical conceptions of time and its passing impair the ability of businesses to function in a morally coherent manner. In the spirit of other recent critiques of modern temporality such as David Couzen Hoy’s The Time of Our Lives, in this paper, I present a critique of the temporality of modern business. In response, I assess the recent attempt to provide an alternative account of temporality using theological concepts by Giorgio Agamben. I argue that Agamben’s more integrative account of messianic time provides a richer ambitemporal account which might provide a viable temporality for a new sustainable economic future.

De Ethica

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Jeremy Kidwell
Jeremy Kidwell
Associate Professor in Theological Ethics

Ethicist, activist, hacker, ethnographer and eco-theologian. Interdisciplinary and unafraid.