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Introduction (pp. 1-7)
Collision: The Puzzle of Chardin (pp. 8-15)
This paper addresses problems in the interpretation of Chardin’s still life paintings, which are disconcerting because they are so out of step with those of his contemporaries. It is suggested that, with the application of Kantian aesthetics, Chardin can be best understood as representing things in themselves as well as the limits of language and understanding.
“One Must Imagine What One Denies”: How Sartre Imagines The Imaginary (pp. 16-39)
This essay is a defense of Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Imaginary as a text which changes the direction of philosophical thinking regarding the image. Historically depreciated as a mere “copy” or “appearance” of a “reality” grasped through perception, the image is reconceived in Sartre’s text, which culminates in a revaluation of imagination as the condition of possibility for a human consciousness that always already transcends its situation towards something entirely other – what he calls “the imaginary.” Despite the metaphysical bias that clearly operates on Sartre’s thinking throughout The Imaginary and leads him to privilege perception over imagination, his work ultimately succeeds in nihilating the traditional thing-image binary. In effect, he imagines something other than his situatedness within the philosophical reality of his time, ushering in a thought of the imaginary through a creative encounter with nothingness. This thought could only occur spontaneously, for the advent of the imaginary is not produced in an act of will. Accordingly, this essay attempts to trace the movements of Sartre’s project in its transformative process.
Aesthetics, Politics, and Art’s Autonomy: A Critical Reading of Jacques Rancière (pp. 40-64)
This paper considers Jacques Rancière’s influential theory of the relation between aesthetics, politics, and art. First, it synthesizes Rancière’s theory. Second, it offers a critical perspective of Rancière’s conception of the autonomy of art in relation to his theory of politics and aesthetics. In doing so, the purpose is to work towards the development of a theoretical base in which we may follow Rancière’s theory of the relation between aesthetic experience and politics whilst avoiding compliance with his relatively fixed and structural notion of the autonomy of art as an attribute of what he calls the aesthetic regime of art. Drawing a distinction between the autonomous experience of the work of art and the ideology of the autonomy of art, this paper argues that the prior comes about both within and in opposition to the latter: the autonomy of art hinges on a relative and relational production of a singularity, not on a structural and defining separation of art from the world of habitual aesthetic experience.