"Bare life" and politics and in Agamben's reading of Aristotle

Finlayson, James Gordon (2010) "Bare life" and politics and in Agamben's reading of Aristotle. Review of Politics, 72 (1). pp. 97-126. ISSN 0034-6705

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Giorgio Agamben's critique of Western politics in Homo Sacer and three related books has been highly influential in the humanities and social sciences. The critical social theory set out in these works depends essentially on his reading of Aristotle's Politics. His diagnosis of what ails Western politics and his suggested remedy advert to a “biopolitical paradigm,” at the center of which stand a notion of “bare life” and a purported opposition between bios and zoē. Agamben claims that this distinction is found in Aristotle's text, in ancient Greek, and in a tradition of political theory and political society stemming from fourth-century Athens to the present. However, a close reading of Aristotle refutes this assertion. There is no such distinction. I show that he bases this view on claims about Aristotle by Arendt and Foucault, which are also unfounded.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Gordon Finlayson
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:51
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 11:26
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22598
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