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Start your review of The Politics of Aesthetics Write a review Shelves: philosophy Late twentieth century French philosophy is a very puzzling beast, particularly for non-Europeans.

In fact, this latter group argues, French philosophy is a wonderful attempt to revolutionize thought. And then the first group suggests that this latter group is simply following a trend that has no real content. This is also true. Late twentieth century French philosophy is a very puzzling beast, particularly for non-Europeans.

Because, at least as I understand it, French philosophy is neither a fashion industry, nor a wonderful attempt to revolutionize thought. It was also intellectually moribund. Most importantly, the key questions are not "What is true? The problems with structuralism are fairly obvious, viz. So structuralism simply cannot answer the revolutionary questions listed above.

The odd anglo philosopher might pop his always a man, since this is real, pointless, my-cock-is-bigger-than-yours territory head up and make a big deal about the Death of God or something. And then nobody cares. But in France, serious thinkers are almost always deeply opposed to any possibility of the transcendent, because the French church has, historically, been ultra-reactionary, and the left has been anti-clericalist. This leads, of course, to some people wondering if this is really the right approach, and so you get phenomenologists explicitly turning to religion.

Also: Descartes, not Locke; that is, rationalism, not empiricism. With that out of the way, I knew nothing about Ranciere before reading this little book, and now I feel little need to learn more about him. As he puts it, "what I try to do really is to target certain topic that both create some kind of discourse of political impotence and, on the other hand, either generate an idea that art cannot do anything or what you have to do is reproduce this stereotypical criticism of the commodity and consumption," This is in the context of garbage art that just reproduces commodification, which is a fair point.

So his rejection of ideology-critique see below is a rejection of a bad form of ideology critique, and has nothing to do with better forms of it i. Where Kant puts forward an unchanging set of conditions for the possibility of knowledge, Ranciere suggests that the conditions change and can be changed; when they are changed, the kinds of knowledge possible will also change. Again, like Badiou, Ranciere likes to schematize things; here, he posits three kinds of politics, roughly, communitarian, liberal, and Marxist.

All of them deny the possibility of a real revolution in various ways. So our first revolutionary act must be an assertion of the importance of politics once again. Instead, the work of art functions in material reality just as, say, an apple functions in material reality.

See: Deleuze. On the other hand, he takes the worst tendencies of French philosophy and no, I do not mean the silly jargon-mongering to absurd lengths.

Given all this, why would you want to get rid of ideology critique? Because, Ranciere suggests, "where one searches for the hidden beneath the apparent, a position of mastery is established," In other words, one should not set oneself up as having a better understanding of the world than the illiterate field worker in Kansas, because that would be undemocratic.

Or, as Propagandhi put it, "And yes, I recognize the irony: the system I oppose affords me the luxury of biting the hand that feeds. Zizek notes something similar, though in a far friendlier way 71 , when he points out that the options for French philosophy appear to be a rejection of politics, on the one hand, or a rejection of economics, on the other: either you can be a pure soul making only perfectly democratic claims, like Ranciere; or you can sell out and pay attention to poverty and commodification, on the other.

This is a false dichotomy. Economic injustice makes it almost impossible for people to support revolution, because why would a Kansan field worker support a revolution? Yes, they are wonderful writers. But of course, that would be a sell out to the economic point of view.


The Politics of Aesthetics




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