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Plato and the Invention of Life$
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Michael Naas

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823279678

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823279678.001.0001

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Plato and the Invention of Life Itself

Plato and the Invention of Life Itself

(p.164) Chapter 7 Plato and the Invention of Life Itself
Plato and the Invention of Life

Michael Naas

Fordham University Press

The final chapter takes many of the insights from the previous chapters in order to show, through a more general reading of Plato’s dialogues, how Plato attempts always to move from what is commonly called life, that is, from a more biological conception of life, a life of the body or of the animal, to a spiritual life or a life of the soul, that is, from something like bare life to real life, from particular life-forms to an essence or form of life itself, the only life, in end, worthy of the name for Plato. This chapter thus concentrates on several later dialogues in which Plato begins to distinguish two different valences of life, human life in the polis (bios) as opposed to what Giorgio Agamben calls “bare life” (zōē), but also, and more importantly, human life as opposed to something like real life. It is the initial distinction between human life and bare life that allows for this reinscription or transformation of bare life into something like real life or life itself, a transformation, it is argued, that is decisive not just for Plato but for the entire neo-Platonic and Christian tradition that takes its inspiration from him.

Keywords:   Giorgio Agamben, bare life, bios, Christianity, neo-Platonism, Plato, real life, zoe

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