I hate to go back to the now time-old argument about whether or not postmodernism is anything new or just some rearticulation of modernity, etc. but i struggled throughout this text with the lack of distinction that Agemben makes between the state of zoe and bios in present versus throughout history. I understand somewhat clearly the connection of their collapse to our present moment that he mentions (p. 83 for example, "The sacredness of life, which is invoked today as an absolutely fundamental right in opposition to sovereign power") yet I fail to see entirely how this is so entirely distinct from any historical precedent, especially given the amount of ancient and modern historical references used throughout the book.
It seems that Agemben's response to my confusion might be to point to the ways in which the rhetoric of rights is misemployed by those with good intentions to uphold some fundamental idea of the sacredness of life. Indeed, this is a powerful argument, and one that echoes of other radical critiques on the dangers of 'liberalism.' While this is arguably a characteristic of specific political developments of the late 20th century, I am still unresolved as to whether or not we can argue that there was a moment when zoe was untouched by politics. We would never argue against the omnipresence of ideology at any moment in history; the natural and pure must always have been shaped and implicated in the hegemonic or at least social lens of its era. So I wonder then, is this collision of zoe and bios perhaps merely the contemporary iteration of the presence of ideological forces in the private sphere? Where religion once reigned supreme, we know posit our faith in empiricism, which implicates an inherent worship for man's fact-based written word as Truth. Could our cultural inability to see through the constructedness of science and law, and thus to live outside of its seeming dominance, be the product of our ideological moment?
I might disagree with everything I just wrote...it just seems that the Agamben's implicit presumption of uniqueness might be worth picking apart.