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.
revival of the religious right in America and Europe, and that of radical Islam in the Middle East, that the question of the theologico-political became once again a central field of political theorizing. On the other hand, by the 1980s and 1990s, the largely abandoned phenomenological approach to the practice of political philosophy got reactivated by the relevance attributed to Hannah Arendt and Lefort’s ideas and theoretical perspectives during the aforementioned processes of transition to
ignored as medium. Communication is always at-a-distance. Vision is always tele-vision. There is always a chiasm, first in the body itself, between the body as seer and the body as visible, and this chiasm operates in the same fashion in all carnal beings and in the intercorporality of the world. The chiasm is at the same time separation and union in both face-to-face interaction and in mediated communication.54 As Francoise Dastur has recently put it, “for Merleau-Ponty communication constitutes
Recapitulation Notes Bibliographic References Index ix xiv 1 3 6 15 17 21 22 28 40 52 55 57 66 74 81 91 95 101 115 117 152 159 viii Preface During the last few decades, democratic theory has been dominated by normative or analytic approaches to the study of political life and institutions. Debates on institutional design or moral philosophy went from the liberal/libertarian/ communitarian discussion of principles of justice to the consideration of deliberative and/or other procedural
phenomenon. If we pay attention for a second to the discourse on the presidency articulated by most in the Republican Party, it is clear that, from their point of view, this institutional mutation should be regarded, and ought to be desired, as permanent. However, if we examine the timidity with which the Democratic Party deals with the problem and the actual way in which Obama exercised his authority, it is also clear that those supposedly more predisposed to oppose this institutional mutation
151n. 56 division of the sensible, of the perceptible 147n. 12 see also partition of the perceptible domination xiii, 8, 15–17, 49, 55, 57, 89, 101, 108, 115, 120n. 23 egalitarian xi–xii, 10, 96, 99–100, 113 elections 27, 76, 126n. 23, 146n. 101 emancipation 57, 148n. 25 emancipatory xii, 44, 55–6, 58 embodiment, embodied 5–6, 10, 28–9, 38–41, 44, 53, 75, 96, 100, 133n. 94, 144n. 81 empiricism, empiricist 28, 30–1, 37, 66, 86–7, 102 empty place of power 5–6, 13, 28, 59, 65, 88, 98–9,