Agamben and The Rise of ‘Bare Life’

John Lechte and Saul Newman

in Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2013 | ISBN: 9780748645725
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780748689163 | DOI:
Agamben and The Rise of ‘Bare Life’

Show Summary Details


Through ‘bare life, securitisation and the camp as its paradigm case ever tightens its grip. But what precisely is the nature of ‘bare life’ in Agamben's work and more generally? Such is the guiding question of this chapter. In particular, it shows that modernity's underlying framework is based on notions of need and scarcity: the human must, above all, have enough to survive and to sustain existence before embarking on the road to freedom. Darwin's utilitarian concept of life, it is argued, makes ‘bare life’ the antithesis of transcendence. Through reference to Foucault's distinction between ‘law and order, where order always prevails, and Heidegger's notion of facticity, which evokes a form of life that is distinct from life as an object, the notion of ‘bare life’ is progressively brought into question in favour of a way of life as a form of transcendence. The possible links between Heideggger and Nazism on the issue of life are also considered.

Keywords: Bare life; camp; Darwin; facticity; Foucault; law and order; Nazism; need and scarcity; transcendence

Chapter.  10987 words. 

Subjects: Politics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.