The Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Arts will welcome an important guest in November. Canadian philosopher Marie Antonios Sassine will speak on November 15 as part of the panel discussion Women, Science, and Other Dangerous Things, and then on November 24 at 10:30 a.m. at the Department of Philosophy with her talk The World is a Stage: The Beautiful and the Political. An Enquiry into Kant’s Critique of Judgment as Political Model.
Abstract of the talk:
Wittgenstein famously said, « ethics and aesthetics are one » (Tractatus 6.421). Kant’s two Critiques, the one on practical reason concerned with ethics and the one on the power of judgement focused on aesthetics, would indicate they are two separate domains requiring different applications of reason and judgement. Yet the Critique of the Faculty of Judgment has exercised a strong appeal to political theorists who value plurality and lucid discourse as integral elements of free political life. This lecture will examine the incarnation of Kant’s Critique of the Faculty of Judgment as a model for political judgment, notably in Hannah Arendt’s interpretation. It will highlight the elements in Kant’s analysis of the judgment of the beautiful that have served to nourish some contemporary notions of political deliberation. The pitfalls and potential promise of transposing an aesthetic appreciation to the political realm will also be considered. In Kant’s view, aesthetic judgment is profoundly subjective, grounded in the feeling of pleasure or displeasure. Taste is a personal matter. It has, the particularity, however, of being communicable since it arises from reflective judgment. In judgments of taste, pleasure and displeasure are not pure sensation, but reflected feelings. To judge an object as beautiful, according to Kant, is to believe at the same time that others would find it so. This underlying and implicit dimension is what renders the experience of beauty communicable, absent any absolute definition of beauty. One might say the private experience of pleasure through the faculty of judgment is immediately also potentially inter-subjective as well as communicable. Inter-subjective experience and communicability are features that have inspired contemporary political thought in thinkers such as Arendt, Habermas and Rawls, but whether their genesis and ultimate goal resides in the judgment of taste or in cognition remains contested and open for discussion.