The Aesthetico-Political: The Question of Democracy in Merleau-Ponty, Arendt, and Rancière
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This study uses new arguments to reinvestigate the relation between aesthetics and politics in the contemporary debates on democratic theory and radical democracy.
First, Carl Schmitt and Claude Lefort help delineate the contours of an aesthetico-political understanding of democracy, which is developed further by studying Merleau-Ponty, Rancière, and Arendt.
The ideas of Merleau-Ponty serve to establish a general "ontological" framework that aims to contest the dominant currents in contemporary democratic theory. It is argued that Merleau-Ponty, Arendt, and Rancière share a general understanding of the political as the contingently contested spaces and times of appearances. However, the articulation of their thought leads to reconsider and explore under-theorized as well as controversial dimensions of their work.
This search for new connections between the political and the aesthetic thought of Arendt and Merleau-Ponty on one hand and the current widespread interest in Rancière's aesthetic politics on the other make this book a unique study that will appeal to anyone who is interested in political theory and contemporary continental philosophy.
under the unifying effects of the generative 26 The Aesthetico-Political principle of hierarchy and its custody under the vigilant gaze of God, now became apparent. This new awareness is fundamental. The (aesthetico-)political appears in this perspective as the institutional and cultural configuration of the social—configuration that is domestication in the sense in which MerleauPonty used the insights of the Gestalt theory16: the gute form being the best working arrangement of an otherwise
pillars of the enigma and opacity involved in the reversibility of the being of flesh, in the ambiguity proper to being visibleseers, touching-touchables, that is the being of individual bodies, languages, and “body politics” alike. The element of flesh, the flesh of the body as much as the flesh of the social and the flesh of language, together with the inscription of the flesh in the flesh—that is, of speaking and acting bodies, carnal beings, in the flesh of society—must be understood as
not saying that any more or any less than you are. I’m saying that today’s theological and/or epistemologial hijackings of our democracies is precisely what we have to fight against—in the name of democracy. 2 The Law of the Earth: Hannah Arendt and the Aesthetic Regime of Politics Exasperation with the threefold frustration of action—the unpredictability of its outcome, the irreversibility of the process, and the anonymity of its authors—is almost as old as recorded history. It has always
modern-democratic form of society is a gestaltic quasi-totality in which the aesthetic regime of politics—its specificity as a horizon for the configuration of collective life—dominates the structuration of its gute form, while, as we have just said, the theologico-political form of society is the one in which the theological regime of politics dominates its structuring principle, and totalitarianism the one in which the epistemologico-political regime becomes hegemonic. Finally, the Rancièrian
on the State and the Constitution. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1990. —. Tocqueville Between Two Worlds. The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. 158 Bibliographic References —. Democacy Inc. Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth. Hannah Arendt. For Love of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982. —. Why Arendt Matters.