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Agamben and the Politics of Human RightsStatelessness, Images, Violence$
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John Lechte and Saul Newman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645725

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645725.001.0001

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Human Rights in History

Human Rights in History

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter 2 Human Rights in History
Source:
Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights
Author(s):

John Lechte

Saul Newman

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645725.003.0002

In this chapter, Human rights in the formal modern sense are seen to have really come into being with the 1948 United Nations Declaration. However, there is also a strong eighteenth-century precedent in the form of the discourse of Natural Rights, and this is considered, as is Sophocles's Antigone. The key aspect of the chapter, however, is a return, in light of Arendt's philosophy, to the notion of slavery in Aristotle's philosophy and its Ancient Greek context. Hegel on slavery is also addressed; for the crucial point to note is that the dialectic of necessity and freedom plays a significant and determining role, not only in relation to the slave mired in necessity, but also with respect to the notion of freedom. Much of current political theory says that freedom is the essential part of the European citizen State, a State, it turns out, which those deemed still to be in a subsistence condition (necessity) cannot hope to enter.

Keywords:   1948 Declaration, Arendt, Aristotle, Antigone, Hegel, Natural Rights, necessity and freedom, slavery

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