The purpose of this paper is to read Rancière’s “Aesthetics as Politics” in relation to Kant’s aesthetics. The relations between Rancière and Kant are found in two aspects. The first is the re-joining of two meanings of aesthetics. Following Kant’s terminology, aesthetics has been used in two different senses: as a theory of human sensibility and as a theory of art (more exactly, what he calls the “aesthetic regime of art”). Combining the two in his own way, Rancière argues that politics has a characteristic of the theory of human sensibility (aesthetics of politics) in the same manner that the theory of art has a political characteristic (politics of aesthetics). Especially for the latter, the politics of aesthetics, he makes reference to Kant’s “Analytic of Beauty” in the Critique of Judgment. Rancière defines it as a politics of aesthetic experience/education, for which Kant’s concept of play is used as a theoretical model. In the Kantian sense, play means a sort of aesthetic attitude. It takes on a double role: The first is the transition from regulative judgment to reflective judgment. Through this transition, reason loses its control over sensibility. The second is the indifference of aesthetic judgment. Benefiting from this indifference, aesthetic judgment can assert its universality, despite being a singular judgment. Existing theories of modernism have explained the political function of art based on the autonomy of the artwork and the personality of the artist. Contrary to such theories, Rancière insists that the main point of his aesthetics is in the aesthetic experience/education (more exactly, the possibility of expanding a certain aesthetic attitude, i.e., play), not in the artwork or the artist. However, the thing with Kant is, he only rediscovers the order of nature in play. In contrast to him, Rancière expresses sympathy with Schiller’s view, insisting on the advent of renewed humanity through aesthetic experience/education. If a new distribution of the sensible (Le partage du sensible) can be established, it would be possible in the aesthetic experience/ education acquired and expanded in play.


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pp. 149-172
Launched on MUSE
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