Of course, everything I have written so far about Ranciere betrays layers of ignorance, so I have set myself a program of (constantly expanding readings):
- Kant: must make my way through Critique of Pure Reason to get a grasp on how the aesthetic figures within Kant’s sense of the relationship between the conditions of experience and the unity of consciousness – or, in other terms, how aesthetics figures within his ontology and epistemology, rather than simply serving as an external and posterior supplement (the Critique of Judgement).
- clarify the metaphysical aesthetic tradition – particularly stemming from Leibniz: the notion of aesthetics as representing a mediation with sensible confusion, with an intractable multiplicity (an infinite and infinitesimal excess).
- clarify the empirical and pragmatist traditions – Hume to Dewey.
- on this basis review strands of pre-Socratic philosophy to trace out aesthetic features that relate not to art, mimesis, beauty, etc., but instead the relationship between truth and appearance, unity and multiplicity, repetition and emergence. Not clear on this yet, but pursue this in an effort to conceive aesthetics as closely aligned or intrinsically linked to ontology and epistemology.
- pursue Plato’s double conception of aesthetics as both improper doubling (mimesis) and proper intoxication (music). Memory very hazy here.
- trace the implications of Hegel’s aesthetics, particularly its bracketing of our response to the natural world – its exclusive emphasis on art; and then Adorno’s re-emphasis on nature and Derrida’s meditation on the mediation between art and objectivity (Signeponge – Ponge’s Notes on the Pinewoods).
- read up on the phenomenological tradition of aesthetics – particularly Heidegger and Gadamer. Heidegger holds on to art but rejects aesthetics. What if we attempted the reverse? Could this prove a more effective way of rethinking the possibilities of art? But I agree with the fundamental idea of a layer of primary experience that exceeds all efforts of reflective cognition. How does this align with Leibniz?
- explore the aesthetics of post-object socially engaged art as a case study of issues and dilemmas affecting attempts to think art/non-art at once.
- and continue reading Ranciere!
The risk in all of this is that I will never find time to develop any of my own ideas, and instead make endless poor efforts to catch up with and summarise other people’s ideas. Must accept that I will never reach the point in which I am properly across the field and just get on with writing stuff. Some level of ignorance is an inevitable condition for thought, rather than a state that can ever be adequately superceded. Curiosity and reading are fine, but not at the expense of endlessly forestalling the capacity to write.