ECT seminar 2010-2011: Philosophy, Art, Politics
The question of the relationship of art and politics dates at least from Plato’s famous expulsion of the poets in the Republic, an act which seems to place philosophy, in its concern for justice and the good of the polis, in a fundamentally antagonistic relationship with art. And beginning with Aristotle, philosophy has often taken on the role of defending art and asserting its potential for personal, social, and political value. If, as Alfred North Whitehead claimed, all of philosophy is a history of footnotes to Plato, we should not be surprised that philosophers have continued to argue about the complex connections and disjunctions between aesthetics and politics ever since. The modern articulation of this vexed relationship emerges with Kant, Hegel, and the German Romantics; the issue was central to 20th century thinkers such as Heidegger, Adorno, and Arendt; and the relation of art and politics continues to be a key problem more recently for thinkers and political philosophers such as Rancière, Badiou, Agamben, and Bourriaud. Artists, of course, have also long addressed the question of the relationship of their activity and products to the political – and their responses take a variety of forms, from art objects and performances to manifestos and critical essays. Some sessions of the seminar will be lead by members of the ECT Advisory Committee, as well as by visiting scholars and artists. The seminar will conclude with a two day conference/performance. This two quarter seminar (Winter: English 259; Spring CL 290) is the core course of the graduate certificate program in Experimental Critical Theory.