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This chapter is an overview of Giorgio Agamben's engagement, in the Homo Sacer series (1995–2014), with Aristotelian philosophy. It specifically studies Agamben's attempt to deconstruct two Aristotelian conceptual oppositions fundamental for the Western tradition of political thought: (1) that between the bare fact of being alive and "qualified" living (associated by Agamben with an alleged distinction between zōē and bios) and (2) that between potentiality (dynamis) and actuality (energeia). Agamben's concept of form-of-life (forma-di-vita), a life that is never "bare" but always in the process of qualifying itself, is designed to deactivate and overcome these distinctions. In the final volume of the series, The Use of Bodies (2014), this is done with the help of the Aristotelian concepts of use (chrēsis) and habit (hexis).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAgamben's Philosophical Lineage
EditorsAdam Kotsko, Carlo Salzani
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781474423656, 9781474438520, 9781474423663
ISBN (Print)9781474423632, 9781474423649
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA3 Book chapter


  • Giorgio Agamben
  • Aristotle
  • life
  • bios
  • biopolitics
  • potentiality
  • actuality
  • dynamis
  • energeia
  • habit
  • use
  • continental philosophy
  • ancient philosophy
  • political philosophy


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