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Le sens de la famille

Le sens de la famille

Aesthetics as the Tr anscendental Ground of Democracy

(p.91) 6 Le sens de la famille
Aesthetics at Large
Thierry de Duve
University of Chicago Press

The preamble to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights speaks of the “human family,” a metaphor that substitutes a biological concept alluding to the human species for a political idea alluding to the human kind, and which dangerously postulates that kinship is, or ought to be, the naturally tender bond founding free and just political communities. This chapter examines the claim of the human family metaphor to bridge the heterogeneity of the political and biological domains as being akin—indeed identical—to Kant’s claim that sensus communis (the postulate of aesthetic reason) bridges the natural and the ethical domains. Jacques Rancière’s reading of Plato’s contention that democracy began when the rules of music were no longer observed is here reinterpreted to imply that aesthetics is the transcendental, and by no means empirical, ground for democracy. Whereas in political matters humanity as a community of feelings has time and again proved to imply the most dangerous confusion between Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft, it is legitimately invoked in aesthetic matters.

Keywords:   aesthetics, democracy, family, heterogeneity political/biological, Immanuel Kant, Jacques Rancière, Plato, sensus communis, transcendental ground, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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