Walter Benjamins bloßes Leben und Hannah Arendts bloßes MenschseinEin Vergleich

Abstract

This paper compares Walter Benjamin’s concept of bare life (bloßes Leben) with Hannah Arendt’s concept of being only human (bloßes Menschsein), concepts which have lately been revived by Giorgio Agamben in Homo sacer. The first part deals with Benjamin’s bare life in his „Critique of Violence“ as well as other texts such as „Goethe’s Elective Affinities“ and „Fate and Character“. The second part deals with Arendt’s being only human as it is found in The Origins of Totalitarianism. To elucidate the concept, Arendt’s criticism of human rights is examined. Finally, the third part compares Benjamin’s and Arendt’s conceptions, exposing the structural similarities and differences between them.

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