Guest lecture by Hans Marius Hansteen, University of Bergen

The Norwegian Kant Society has the pleasure to announce the following guest lecture by Hans Marius Hansteen, University of Bergen: The Sublime and the Revolution: Notes on Aesthetics, Rhetoric and Politics in Kant. All interested are welcome!

The Critique of Judgment has no systematic counterpart, writes Kant. This, however, does not necessarily imply that it has no counterpart whatsoever. My - admittedly somewhat daring - proposal is to read Kant’s minor, political writings as an unsystematic counterpart to the third critique. The point of this is to link interpretations of Kant’s political thinking and his aesthetics by way of rhetorical considerations (including Kant’s reflections on rhetoric and his appropriation of concepts from the rhetorical tradition as well as rhetorical analysis of Kant’s writings).
The paper will elaborate on one of the observations that motivate this undertaking, namely the striking parallels between what Kant writes on the French revolution in the Conflict of the Faculties and the description of the experience of the sublime in the Critique of Judgment. In both contexts, Kant focus on the experience of someone who is witnessing something dangerous from a safe distance, and on the impact of such experience on the self-understanding of a subject which, in an at least seemingly paradoxical way, is both observer and participant: What are we taking part in, when we are profoundly impressed by a spectacle that strictly speaking is none of our business?
I want to substantiate the claim that these parallels are not merely surface coincidence, but constitute a proper analogy. An analogous relation between disparate phenomena exists on basis of common features in the structure of their exposition (Darstellung). Citing Kant’s own example, we must admit that a hand mill really have no features in common with despotism, both, however, might be described under the same aspect, i.e. as being moved by a single will. Accordingly, I will analyze the presentation of the sublime and of the revolution. More specifically, I will focus on the rhetorical devices at work, and argue that they might most appropriately be taken together under the heading of hypotyposis, a term that in rhetoric denotes a lifelike description of a thing or scene.
Now, hypotyposis is not only an apt rhetorical term for what is going on in the texts under scrutiny - it is used by Kant himself. Rodolphe Gasché (one of several scholars who have emphasized the importance of rhetoric to the conception of Kant’s third critique) maintains that hypotyposis is among the most important rhetorical notions appropriated by Kant: Hypotyposis is not just one of several possible forms of rhetorical presentation; it informs the very concept of presentation or Darstellung itself. This may not only support my general interpretative hypothesis - that rhetoric is central if we are to understand the relation(s) between the aesthetic and the political in Kant's writings - but is also give directions as regards the more specific understanding of the relationship between philosophy and rhetoric in Kant's writings
Hans Marius Hansteen is and associate professor at the Department of philosophy (Institutt for filosofi og førstesemesterstudier), University of Bergen. His primary research interests are social and political theory, rhetoric and didactics. Publications include:
”Adornos philosophische Rhetorik oder »Wie zu lesen sei«” / i: Zeitschrift für kritische Theorie Nr 30/31, 2010, s 97-124
"Sofisten Immanuel Kant og den stridbare samtalen" / i: Syn og Segn.årg 111 (nr 3 2005), s 67-70


The Norwegian Kant Society
Published Apr. 21, 2016 4:44 PM