I can’t be bothered to look any of this up, but, I have a vague recollection of some passages in Giorgio Agamben that suggest that the category of ‘life’ in a biological sense doesn’t have the sort of solidity that it is sometimes taken to have. To put it another way, using a phrase I heard recently and like quite a bit, when it comes to live there is no fixed ontology. Life is blurrily bounded. Again, can’t bothered to look things up, but I have another vague recollection that passages in Judith Butler’s _Bodies That Matter_ speak to this as well.

This is on my mind because for various reasons I’ve ended up skimming through some bits of Foucault again. In the _History of Sexuality_ Foucault talks about forms of power “administering life” and talks about forms of “power over life.” (135.) I’ve never liked that phrasing, because all power is power over life. That’s not to say there’s nothing of interest here, I think Foucault tracks onto some very interesting developments actually and some of his students do as well, but the phrasing is unfortunate; I think this phrasing tracks onto those developments clumsily. On the one hand, there are biological facts of human existence, on the other hand, the distinction between biological and non-biological is not as clear as it may seem, and I’m not clear why it matters that these facts about humans be biological facts vs simply facts about human existence. Part of why I pause at this is that I think that there’s a way in which the ‘power taking hold of life’ stuff might miss out that there’s a political vocabulary and conceptual framework that defines notions of biology and thinks about social relationships within that framework.

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