Aisthesis in philosophy, psychoanalysis and politics
Project Manager at ZRC SAZUAleš Erjavec, PhD
Co-ResearchersMarina Gržinić Mauhler, PhD, Peter Klepec, PhD, Rado Riha, PhD, Jelica Šumič Riha, PhD, Alenka Zupančič Žerdin, PhD
Project Duration1 July 2011–30 June 2014
Faculty of Arts, University in Ljubljana
PartnersZdravko Kobe, Jurij Simoniti
The end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first witness to the antinomies of contemporary thought in its search of an effective response to one of the fundamental problems of our time: the breakdown of our common world of sense experience. One of the most original and theoretically most productive attempts at resolving this antinomy is represented by the reworking of the notion of aisthesis both in contemporary philosophy as well as within the broader realm of contemporary theory.
The initial hypothesis of this research proposal is that for an understanding of the different attempts at rehabilitating the notion of aisthesis that we can witness today within and outside the realm of philosophy, what is necessary is a preliminary analysis of the conceptual transformations of Kant’s “revolution in the way of thinking”, for it was this revolution that made it possible to break with the then dominant paradigms of the understanding of the sensible, i.e. rationalism and empiricism.
In Kant aisthesis relates, on the one hand, to aesthetics as a critique of taste, namely the judgment of art and the beautiful in general, thereby demonstrating the possibility of the constitution of sensus communis on the terrain of the particular.
On the other hand, the notion of aisthesis directs us to the theory of the duality of knowledge as aistheta kai noeta, where it denotes knowledge of the sensible, thus overcoming the cognitivist postulate, namely that the subject is the organisational and unifying principle of experience.
The aim of this research project is to show that a thorough rethinking of the two aspects of Kant’s notion of aisthesis and the implications of their mutual interconnection in different realms of thought and acting outside of philosophy are of key import for contemporary understanding and usage of the notion of aisthesis, which became one of the key concepts capable of productively connecting the disparate realms of thought, knowledge, and acting.
I. Transcendental aesthetics and its contemporary radicalisations
In this part Kant’s a priori forms of sense experience that made possible a broadening of the understanding of aesthetics as a regime of visibility and intelligibility, i.e. as an always specific distribution of the sensible, will be researched.
II. Aisthesis between politics and art.
The main hypothesis of the second part is that via the notion of aisthesis artistic practices enter philosophy at the entry point of its political sensibility.
In this context, special attention will be devoted to Rancière’s replacement of the representational regime with the aesthetic one. What is most significant for our proposal is the fact that this replacement, by suspending and neutralising hierarchical dichotomies of the representational system, such as active form and passive matter, representation and the represented, mind and body, opens the space for a radically different distribution of the sensible through the production of new “sensoria”. This will allow us to examine not only the legitimacy and consequences of such replacement of hitherto essential notions such as modernism with the notion of the aesthetic regime of art, but also transformations within the aesthetic regime that involve a theoretical and political historicisation of contemporary art.
In the project psychoanalysis is to serve as the point at which the two constituent thematic parts around which this research proposal is organised will be brought together to form a unified research theme.