European Journal of Philosophy 27 (1):75-97 (2019)

This paper presents a novel Hegelian view of the relationship between aesthetics and democratic politics. My account avoids the drawbacks associated with approaches that reconceive all of the political in aesthetic terms or reduce the aesthetic to art. Instead, I maintain that the aesthetic is best understood as a distinct relationship of individual freedom. My argument proceeds by highlighting shortcomings of Honneth’s account of democratic Sittlichkeit and then addressing these impasses by integrating aesthetic freedom into the picture. The first two steps of my argument concern the fact that the form of life outlined by Honneth aspires to be a form of free life, yet his account of democratic Sittlichkeit gives rise to two dimensions of unfreedom. The first problem of unfreedom pertains to the scope of freedom. The relationships of freedom incorporated into Honneth’s account fail to turn given social roles into the subject matter of a sufficiently unrestricted practice of freedom. The second problem of freedom concerns conformism. In a final step, I complete my argument that Honneth’s account is unsatisfactory and incomplete by showing that aesthetic freedom is socially valid and thus ought to form part of our accounts of democratic ethical life.
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DOI 10.1111/ejop.12403
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Honneth on Social Pathologies: A Critique.Fabian Freyenhagen - 2015 - Critical Horizons 16 (2):131-152.
Rejoinder.Axel Honneth - 2015 - Critical Horizons 16 (2):204-226.

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