DescriptionOnly yesterday aesthetics stood accused of concealing cultural games of social distinction. Now it is considered a parasitic discourse from which artistic practices must be freed.
But aesthetics is not a discourse. It is a historical regime of the identification of art. This regime is paradoxical, because it founds the autonomy of art only at the price of suppressing the boundaries separating its practices and its objects from those of everyday life and of making free aesthetic play into the promise of a new revolution.
Aesthetics is not a politics by accident but in essence. But this politics operates in the unresolved tension between two opposed forms of politics: the first consists in transforming art into forms of collective life, the second in preserving from all forms of militant or commercial compromise the autonomy that makes it a promise of emancipation.
This constitutive tension sheds light on the paradoxes and transformations of critical art. It also makes it possible to understand why today?s calls to free art from aesthetics are misguided and lead to a smothering of both aesthetics and politics in ethics.
Politics of Aesthetics
Aesthetics as Politics
Problems and Transformations of Critical Art
The Antinomies of Modernism
Alain Badiou’s Inaesthetics: the Torsions of Modernism
Lyotard and the Aesthetics of the Sublime: A Counter-reading of Kant
The Ethical Turn in Aesthetics and Politics
Jay Bernstein, New School for Social Research
"Jacques Rancière's Aesthetics and its Discontents mounts a subtle and spirited defense of modern aesthetic thought, from Schiller to Adorno. Aesthetics is not philosophy seeking to dominate art, as its modish detractors claim. Rather, it is the attempt to think through the artwork's paradoxes and contradictions. In a forceful critique of rival thinkers such as Lyotard and Badiou, Rancière shows that abandoning aesthetic discourse does not mean respecting the integrity of art. Instead, art ends up being reduced to the vehicle of a remorseless ethical demand, or to the cipher of a transcendent truth."
Peter Dews, University of Essex
• This new book is a major contribution to aesthetics and will consolidate Ranciere's reputation as one of the most influential figures in aesthetics today
• Rancière argues that aesthetics operates in the unresolved tension between two opposed forms of politics The first consists in transforming art into forms of collective life, the second in preserving from all forms of militant or commercial compromise the autonomy that makes it a promise of emancipation
• He shows that this constitutive tension sheds light on the paradoxes and transformations of critical art