The meaning of the term sacer in Ancient Roman religion is not fully congruent with the meaning it took after Christianization, and which was adopted into English as sacred. In early Roman religion sacer denotes anything \"set apart\" from common society and encompasses both the sense of \"hallowed\" and that of \"cursed\". This concept of the sacred contrasts with the Hebrew dichotomy of \"cursed/prohibited\" and \"sacred\", expressed by \"cherem\" and \"qadosh\". The homo sacer could thus also simply mean a person expunged from society and deprived of all rights and all functions in civil religion. Homo sacer is defined in legal terms as someone who can be killed without the killer being regarded as a murderer; and a person who cannot be sacrificed. The sacred human may thus be understood as someone outside the law, or beyond it. With respect to certain monarchs, in certain western legal traditions, the concepts of the sovereign and of the homo sacer have been conflated.
The status of homo sacer could fall upon one as a consequence of oath-breaking. An oath in antiquity was essentially a conditional self-cursing, i.e. invoking one or more deities and asking for their punishment in the event of breaking the oath. An oathbreaker was consequently considered the property of the gods whom he had invoked and then deceived. If the oathbreaker was killed, this was understood as the revenge of the gods into whose power he had given himself. Since the oathbreaker was already the property of the oath deity, he could no longer belong to human society, or be consecrated to another deity.
Giorgio Agamben (/əˈɡæmbən/ ə-GAM-bən, Italian: [ˈdʒordʒo aˈɡamben]; born 22 April 1942) is an Italian philosopher best known for his work investigating the concepts of the state of exception, form-of-life (borrowed from Ludwig Wittgenstein) and homo sacer. The concept of biopolitics (carried forth from the work of Michel Foucault) informs many of his writings.
The reduction of life to 'biopolitics' is one of the main threads in Agamben's work, in his critical conception of a homo sacer, reduced to 'bare life', and thus deprived of any rights. Agamben's concept of the homo sacer rests on a crucial distinction in Greek between \"bare life\" (la vita nuda or zoê /ˈzoʊi/; Gk. ζωή zoê) and \"a particular mode of life\" or \"qualified life\" (bios UK: /ˈbaɪɒs/, US: /-oʊs/; Gk. βίος bios). In Part III, section 7 of Homo Sacer, \"The Camp as the 'Nomos' of the Modern\", he evokes the concentration camps of World War II. \"The camp is the space that is opened when the state of exception begins to become the rule.\" Agamben says that \"What happened in the camps so exceeds (is outside of) the juridical concept of crime that the specific juridico-political structure in which those events took place is often simply omitted from consideration.\" The conditions in the camps were \"conditio inhumana,\" and the incarcerated somehow defined outside the boundaries of humanity, under the exception laws of Schutzhaft. Where law is based on vague, unspecific concepts such as \"race\" or \"good morals,\" law and the personal subjectivity of the judicial agent are no longer distinct.
In the process of creating a state of exception these effects can compound. In a realized state of exception, one who has been accused of committing a crime, within the legal system, loses the ability to use his/her voice and represent themselves. The individual can not only be deprived of their citizenship, but also of any form of agency over their own life. \"Agamben identifies the state of exception with the power of decision over life.\"
Agamben mentions that basic universal human rights of Taliban individuals while captured in Afghanistan and sent to Guantánamo Bay in 2001 were negated by US laws. In reaction to the removal of their basic human rights, detainees of Guantánamo Bay prison went on hunger strikes. Within a state of exception, when a detainee is placed outside the law he or she is, according to Agamben, reduced to \"bare life\" in the eyes of the judicial powers. Here, one can see why such measures as hunger strikes can occur in such places as prisons. Within the framework of a system that has deprived the individual of power, and their individual basic human freedoms, the hunger strike can be seen as a weapon or form of resistance. \"The body is a model which can stand for any bounded system. Its boundaries can represent any boundaries which are threatened or precarious.\" Within a state of exception the boundaries of power are precarious and threaten to destabilize not only the law, but one's humanity, as well as their choice of life or death. Forms of resistance to the extended use of power within the state of exception, as suggested in Guantánamo Bay prison, also operate outside the law. In the case of the hunger strike, the prisoners were threatened and endured force feeding not allowing them to die. During the hunger strikes at Guantánamo Bay prison, accusations and founded claims of forced feedings began to surface in the autumn of 2005. In February 2006, The New York Times reported that prisoners were being force fed in Guantánamo Bay prison and in March 2006, more than 250 medical experts, as reported by the BBC, voiced their opinions of the forced feedings stating that this was a breach of the government's power and was against the rights of the prisoners.
In his main work \"Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life\" (1998), Agamben analyzes an obscure figure of Roman law that poses fundamental questions about the nature of law and power in general. Under the laws of the Roman Empire, a man who committed a certain kind of crime was banned from society and all of his rights as a citizen were revoked. He thus became a \"homo sacer\" (sacred man). In consequence, he could be killed by anybody, while his life on the other hand was deemed \"sacred\", so he could not be sacrificed in a ritual ceremony.
Agamben draws on Carl Schmitt's definition of the Sovereign as the one who has the power to decide the state of exception (or justitium), where law is indefinitely \"suspended\" without being abrogated. But while Schmitt's aim is to include the necessity of state of emergency under the rule of law, Agamben on the contrary demonstrates that all life cannot be subsumed by law. As in homo sacer, the state of emergency is the inclusion of life and necessity in the juridical order solely in the form of its exclusion.[clarification needed]
In this book, Agamben traces the concept of 'state of exception' (Ausnahmezustand) used by Carl Schmitt to Roman justitium and auctoritas. This leads him to a response to Carl Schmitt's definition of sovereignty as the power to proclaim the exception.
Giorgio Agamben is particularly critical of the United States' response to 11 September 2001, and its instrumentalization as a permanent condition that legitimizes a \"state of exception\" as the dominant paradigm for governing in contemporary politics. He warns against a \"generalization of the state of exception\" through laws like the USA PATRIOT Act, which means a permanent installation of martial law and emergency powers. In January 2004, he refused to give a lecture in the United States because under the US-VISIT he would have been required to give up his biometric information, which he believed stripped him to a state of \"bare life\" (zoe) and was akin to the tattooing that the Nazis did during World War II.
In Homo Sacer, Agamben aims to connect the problem of pure possibility, potentiality, and power with the problem of political and social ethics in a context where the latter has lost its previous religious, metaphysical, and cultural grounding. Taking his cue from Foucault's fragmentary analysis of biopolitics, Agamben probes with great breadth, intensity, and acuteness the covert or implicit presence of an idea of biopolitics in the history of traditional political theory. He argues that from the earliest treatises of political theory, notably in Aristotle's notion of man as a political animal, and throughout the history of Western thinking about sovereignty (whether of the king or the state), a notion of sovereignty as power over \"life\" is implicit.
Agamben is going to argue that life cannot be brought under the rule of the law. Man is born to life, bare life, but then tries to create a system to have a good life, which is politics. Just raw life is neglected by law, because law focuses on the good life. However the good life comes from a transformation of the bare life, meaning that bare life is always inside of and outside of the law at all times.
2.3: Hobbes feels that the very balance between nature and violence is what justifies the absolute power of the sovereign. It is why we need sovereign power. But sovereignty still has the nature of life in it. So in sovereignty, life and nature meet state and society, nature and culture meet, violence and law, etc. So this is where the sovereign is the point at which justice and violence interact.
Schmidtt says that constituting power should be the same as the constituting will of the people of the nation, but then there is no way to tell the difference between the power of the people and the power of the sovereign.
Before taking up that ambitious agenda, there has to be an uneasy qualification to my engagement with Agamben on sovereignty and with the archaic redoubt of homo sacer. All summary is fraught but here it is especially so. The main work in which Agamben deals with such things, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, is written in...
Agamben draws parallel between bare life/politics and where Aristotle places the metaphysical definition of man as living being with language using juxtaposition of voice and language (phone vs. logos) 59ce067264