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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 2008

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Arts

Elga Freiberga
Pages 79-86

The Problem of Affects in Aesthetics
Burke, Lyotard and Ranciere

I was more excited by Jacques Ranciere’s idea about aesthetics being, in his opinion, a special way of thinking (mode de pensee) that works of art provoke and that tends to show what they are like as art objects. Aesthetics then (following this intention) would not be viewed as a discipline akin to art theory that would examine the structure of the work of art, its peculiarities, conditions of arising, et cetera, all that attests either to its objectivity or subjectivity. Ranciere underscores the special (in the style of Hegel and Romanticist philosophy) regime of thinking about art where the idea is not yet an idea, but is what is not yet being thought. In spite of the fact that Ranciere’s declarations refer to S. Freud’s theory of the unconscious that, in his opinion, is closely linked with the way of artistic thinking and possibly can be expressed in no other way but through the medium of artistic thinking. The same way refers to the basic concepts of Freud’s psychoanalysis including also the unconscious and the ideas on complexes, especially on the Oedipus complex. It is interesting that Ranciere compares the framework of the dramatic nature of Oedipus’ fate with the basic fluctuations of aesthetics and art and namely – just like Oedipus is also the one who experiences everything absolutely and is completely expressed in action so the character of aesthetics and art is hidden in the contradictions between activities and sufferings or action and passions. This theme just like the question of the extreme poles of understanding aesthetics – pleasure and pain is comparable with the question of the determination of aesthetics and also art that grasps human experience in figural bodily shapes because that is the way of discerning the thought that is not yet being thought, but is hidden in bodily or animated figures. This tradition or historical regime, I think, is not to be discovered as a rectilinear trajectory; it manifests itself in a contradictory and sporadic way, frequently as an interlude between crucial conclusions and an essential interest pointing towards the ambivalence of art that referring to the words of the early modernist poet Charles Baudelaire: “I am the wound and the knife” would mark these relationships between action and its effect that could also attest to the painful birth of the thought in the not thought yet or else the negative character of aistheton.

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