Anti-black Racism

The Greatest Art Show on Earth

Authored by: Janine Jones

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415711234
eBook ISBN: 9781315884424
Adobe ISBN:


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The concept of the aesthetic derives from the concept of taste—often understood in the history of Western philosophy as that which enables us to discern beauty from non-beauty. In The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic, Monique Roelofs understands the aesthetic as “an assembly of conceptually inflected, socially situated, multimodal, embodied practices” (2014: 2). Roelofs argues that Hume’s and Kant’s universalist accounts of aesthetic perception advance a notion of the public that emerges from “the hypothesis of shared appreciative capacities and the universally valid aesthetic judgments they warrant” (2014: 5). I understand the aesthetic, here, as pertaining to the assembly of which Roelofs speaks, anchored in discourses and experiences pertaining to the discernment of the beautiful and the non-beautiful, where such discernment targets the appearance of objects, and understands their deeper reality or meaning (when they are thought to have one) as stemming or inferable from their appearance. On my understanding of the aesthetic, the hypothesis claims that we possess shared capacities for discerning positive and negative aesthetic experiences, and, that the putative fact that these capacities (capacities of taste, we might call them) are universally shared is what warrants the aesthetic judgments that issue forth from them.

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