Guest Lecture by D. N. Rodowick

Hannah Arendt’s Care for Culture

29. Juni 2017, 18:00 in Cas 1.812 –In her long philosophical career, Arendt wrote relatively little on aesthetics nor did she seem overly concerned with the criticism of art. At the same time, she was deeply concerned about the humanities and its connection to politics. Of central interest here is Arendt’s deep and original account of Kant’s critique of the powers of judgment in “The Crisis in Culture” and other essays. Arendt’s guiding idea is that the Third Critique should be read as Kant’s contribution to a political philosophy whose fundamental elements and actions are grounded in judgments of taste. The place and power of the formation and communication of aesthetic experience is not neglected here, but rather reframed with respect to a particular concern: care of the polis and its attendant cultures, and how the power of a singular experience—aesthetic experience expressed as a judgment of taste—may be woven into communities of shared taste and moral concern. A care for culture entails preserving and perpetuating enduring aesthetic experiences, but even more fundamental is cultivating the kinds of free relations, for ourselves and for others, that are open to transformation by our encounters with others. In this manner, the power of judgment extends judgments of taste into an ever-widening fabric of intersubjective moral consideration, which for Arendt is the basis of any polity.  The humanities’ care for culture, and its cultivation of taste and powers of judgment, here becomes the basis of a political ethics.

D.N. Rodowick is Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor in Cinema and Media Studies and the College at the University of Chicago.