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Sara Brill Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Fairfield University on:
Zōē, Politics, and Human Animality: Aristotle contra Agamben
A recent spate of critical engagements with Giorgio Agamben’s construction of the zōē, /bios distinction calls for renewed evaluation of the political valence of zōē in Aristotle’s political theory. While there may be ways of responding to these criticisms from within Agamben’s work, I am more interested in proposing an alternative account of zōē, one that better accommodates the breadth of Aristotle’s thinking about living beings, the context of ancient Greek conceptions of life, and a genealogical task that could be of service to a variety of strands of contemporary critical theory. Taking Aristotle’s treatment of zōē as an object of desire as my point of origin, I locate this orientation toward life within a broader conception of power as generativity and an alienated approach to the material conditions of human birth. I then trace the model of politics, zōē-politics, that arises from this framework.
Sara Brill is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Fairfield University. She works on the psychology, politics, and zoology of Plato and Aristotle as well as contemporary feminist and political theory. She is the author of Plato on the Limits of Human Life (Indiana 2013), Aristotle on the Concept of Shared Life (forthcoming from Oxford University press in May 2020), co-editor of Antiquities beyond Humanism (Oxford 2019), and has published numerous articles on Plato, Aristotle, Greek tragedy, and the Hippocratic corpus.
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