The triple task of aesthetics

1. The aesthetics of politics (Spinoza): All art is political. The task of politics is the constitution of a people “conscious of itself” as a people, which requires the imaginative act of identification by which individuals imagine themselves as actively constitutive and constituting elements of a political body–this is the task of (political) art.

2. The aesthetics of philosophy (Nietzsche): What is the proper form of the expression of thought–a thought that is not a “hermeneutics” of truth but the production of truth, i.e., a truth that is of the world–insofar as it is expressed historically–and one “out of this world” insofar as we are called to a new world? There is not only the re-presentation of truth but the presentation of truth in what has gone under various names: original ecstasy, intensity, fragmentation, suffering, non-coincidence, repetition, etc. Truth remains “beyond” representation–not as something ineffable, unsayable, or otherwise inadequately grasped by representation, but as that which remains as the irreducible remainder of representation, i.e., productively or creatively beyond representation by being nothing other than the movement of representation (a “mobile army of metaphors” or, simply, music).

3. The aesthetics of metaphysics (Leibniz): Harmony reveals intrinsic relationships between the elements of the harmonic series. But individual existence precludes the reality of relations. Resolving this contradiction will require philosophy to return to the original unity of metaphysics, cosmology, and axiology–hence not to Aristotle but to Anaximander.

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