The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida

Paperback | August 26, 1999

byThomas McCarthyTranslated byNeil Solomon

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Recent discussions of aesthetics, whether in the hermeneutic or the analytic tradition, understand the place of art and aesthetic experience according to a model of "autonomy"--as just one among the many modes of experience that make up the realm of reason, situated beside the other "spheres of value." In contrast, Theodor Adorno and Jacques Derrida view art and aesthetic experience as a medium for the dissolution of nonaesthetic reason, an experientially enacted critique of reason. Art is not only autonomous, following its own law, different from nonaesthetic reason, but sovereign: it subverts the rule of reason.In this book Christoph Menke attempts to explain art's sovereign power to subvert reason without falling into an error common to Adorno's negative dialectics and Derrida's deconstruction. The error, which already appeared in romanticism, is to conceive of the sovereignty of art as reflecting the superiority of its knowledge. For art entails no knowledge and its negativity toward reason cannot be articulated as an insight into the nature of reason: art is sovereign not despite, but because of, its autonomy. Menke brings to his arguments a firm grounding in both philosophy and literary studies, as well as familiarity with German, French, and American sources.

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Improving the arguments of Theodor Adorno and Jacques Derrida, this book explains art’s sovereign power. According to Derrida and Adorno, art is autonomous. The Sovereignty of Art uses German, French and American sources to explain that art is sovereign because of its autonomy. This book also explains where romanticism failed and that ...

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Recent discussions of aesthetics, whether in the hermeneutic or the analytic tradition, understand the place of art and aesthetic experience according to a model of "autonomy"--as just one among the many modes of experience that make up the realm of reason, situated beside the other "spheres of value." In contrast, Theodor Adorno and J...

Thomas McCarthy is John Schaffer Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University and the editor of the MIT Press series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:August 26, 1999Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262631954

ISBN - 13:9780262631952

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Improving the arguments of Theodor Adorno and Jacques Derrida, this book explains art’s sovereign power. According to Derrida and Adorno, art is autonomous. The Sovereignty of Art uses German, French and American sources to explain that art is sovereign because of its autonomy. This book also explains where romanticism failed and that sovereignty of art is not due to the superiority of its knowledge. In fact, art has no knowledge at all.