Getting rid of the beauty prefabricated by the dominant ideology

Photo: Guillaume Souvant Agence France-Presse
It would seem that Immanuel Kant was blind to the possible existence, in societies of mass culture, the aesthetic itself induced by the traditions, standards, values, and dogmas carried by the dominant ideology.

In the section The Duty of philo, we publish annually an abridged version of the text winner of the contest Philosophizing that takes place in the college network. The contest of 2017 focused on this theme : The beauty will save the world ?

The world is threatened : who’s to deny it ? It is enough to be exposed if only to a negligible extent to the media and products of mass consumption to find that there are, in popular culture, a fascination and an appetite for disasters. Movies flavor apocalyptic great at the box-office, and the media coverage is opted, most of the time, for an approach which is sensational. It seems clear that the world is affected of a condition and bathed in a nihilism parasitic unproductive pushes them precisely to search for its own self-destruction. This nihilism, as indicated by Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Onfray, “implies the end of a universe, and the difficulty of the advent of another” (The power to exist, 2006). All agree, however, not on the nature of the threat : deterioration of the environment, terrorism, capitalist model and of the stock market, etc as a whole, these pitfalls usually have to root a lack of judgment. In front of such threats, it is difficult to see a solution which is not, by vocation anecdotal and insignificant. The drastic increase in prescriptions of antidepressants and anxiolytics does not appear to have spared the population of the suffering imposed by his condition, the consumption, not more, not more than the entertainment. The solution would thus be outside of those offered by the capitalist society industrial post-christian. How to ensure, therefore, a happiness to humans ? Marcel Proust wrote in his masterpiece that “beauty is a promise of happiness” (In search of lost time : The prisoner, 1923). In its relentless pursuit of lost time, would he have put the finger on a part of the answer ? The beauty would it have the capacity to save the world ? In other words, beauty as a judgment free and subjective experience of the real, does it have the ability to save the human society, in its entirety, of the loss of reference points and of judgment that attacks him ? It seems that the beauty has just the ability for everyone to “[recover] the power to judge ” (the grape, When beauty saves us, 2013).

Photo: Pascal-Olivier Dumas-Dubreuil
Pascal-Olivier Dumas-Dubreuil is a student of philosophy at the University of Montreal.

In The crisis of culture (1972), Hannah Arendt takes a critical look at the state of the world, referring to the crisis that has caused the wear and tear of the tradition induced by the industrial revolution and, more broadly, the entry into the modern era. This change in the dynamics of the social is posited as responsible for the emergence of a mass society in the sense that the layers, previously excluded from the company by an exhausting work, are integrated in it, as with all of a sudden ” not only of wealth but of leisure “. The mass society thus appears as colporteuse of a mass culture that serves to entertain, though alienating, its new members. By definition, this mass society gives rise to a collective psychology that exacerbates in the individual at the same time its sense of” abandonment “in the face of the mass,” its excitability, and its lack of criteria “, “its fitness for consumption” and, more seriously, his ” inability to judge “. Deprived of this faculty, the individual is deprived, with the real, all free experience of his environment and of himself.


Since our economic model does not encourage the production in the perspective of future consumption, it is evident that most of the entities that has an aesthetic purpose has a market value. Designed deliberately to please, the advertisements, in the broad sense, are probably creations mechanized that we encounter most frequently. In the explosion of its variants, the advertising has taken over the whole experience selfless of our sensible relation with the real. It is unfortunate to realize that the aesthetics of artificial picked up by the mass society represses our ability to form judgments free. The individual who is confronted with it, thus, becomes blind to any beauty because “the satisfaction changes to the interest when we the lions to the representation of the existence of an object [then the beautiful exists only when a judgment is carried out] without any interest” (Kant, Critique of judgement, 1968). When the satisfaction vis-à-vis an object is concerned, “it always refers to the faculty of desire” which, as the name suggests, is extracted from the judging faculty, the only one who is really ” no interest “, “without concept” and “without representation of an end” as the ” satisfaction required “.


Following the reverse logic, by such statements, Immanuel Kant, in Critique of the faculty of judgment, shows the way, by the obligation of critique that imposes the beautiful, towards the reconquest of our judging faculty. Overall, he considers that the single satisfaction sovereign that we can experience can be caused that the contact of the beauty. In fact, at the time of ” whether a thing is beautiful “, the subject perceives that something through his senses that limit it to a partial indication and on on. The sensory perceptions thus acquired suggest a judgment ” in relation to the free lawfulness of the imagination. “If the imagination in the judgment is carried out without a priori, it will be” productive and spontaneous […] as a designer of arbitrary forms of intuitions possible.” Kant distinguishes between judgments of “determinant” and ” reflective “.


In the first, the only type that knows the dogmatism, “the universal and the particular are, one and the other, objects of knowledge, so that [the universal] is determined, by the laws of the association, as a case of a law or universal rule” (Bréhier, History of philosophy, 2004). In consideration, the second, one that takes the aesthetic experience of pure, gushing when the individual is devoid of a universal rule pre-existing. The analysis of the particular prescribed that “the faculty of judgment is exercised, to [give us a] rule required to think of the given” (Bréhier, History of philosophy). Ultimately, this grip of our relationship sensitive to the world has the impact of giving back, to those that make the experience of beauty, confidence in their abilities and an inclination to the practice of judgment. In a broad sense, the beauty is therefore inclined to encourage the exercise of free will, and this, even when there is no concept of a pre-existing or a priori. Kantian theory gives the beauty to the function of a bulwark against the deprivation of critical induced by the mass society and its mass culture. In this sense, it seems to be able to save the world.

Under the weight of monopolies, the whole civilization of mass is the same and the bone structure of the skeleton conceptual manufactured by this model begins to look
Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno

For Kant, the aesthetic judgment was a sentence free of criteria pre-existing. In this light, the judgment induced by the beautiful would have a higher value according to its ability to catalyze the faculty of judgment and by its independence in relation to the traditions, standards, values, and dogmas. Unfortunately, it would seem that Kant was blind to the possible existence, in societies of mass culture, the aesthetic itself induced by the traditions, standards, values, and dogmas carried by the dominant ideology. In The dialectic of reason (1974), Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno corroborate the existence of a culture dominant aesthetic in the service of the interests of those who are, in fact, ” dominate economically “. They observe a uniformity in the cultural productions which is the fruit of a “system” consisting roughly of television and film, radio and magazines. They declare : “Under the weight of monopolies, the whole civilization of mass is the same and the bone structure of the skeleton conceptual manufactured by this model begins to look. “This standardization removes little by little all difference. Such a system sanitized of any marginality has the effect of reducing the contact of individuals with the objects for which they do not have a concept or a priori. Horkheimer and Adorno note that the need ” which for example might escape the central control is already suppressed by the control of the individual consciousness “. Same observation for the cultural sectors : “each sector is uniform, and all are relative to each other” in a game of interdependence. In fact, the dominant ideology encourages the majority to associate, in a simplistic way, the concepts of beauty man-made and prefabricated to most of the objects to which it gives its approval because they are based in the systemic logic, and perpetuate the model in place. In return, individuals are conditioned to have an aversion to anything that is not familiar. In this system, the only exotic vocabulary, which are are watered-down and emptied of their substance, only to become, in fact, that a product like any other. Horkheimer and Adorno adds : “For his recreation [humans] who works should suit this production unified. “It would therefore be laborious to evade the fair extravagant, ostentatious and absurd. The kantian theory assumed that the individual, in the process of making a judgment, would have the freedom to organize and embrace the concepts according to his own will. The industry, however, has rather the habit of “any map” in its place. In such a situation, the experience of beauty has nothing to do with free will, but becomes, conversely, a mechanical pre-determined, which has the simple effect of dispossessing further the individual of his creativity and of his faculty of judgment ” reflective “.


To conclude, the threats to the world are primarily due to the loss of judgment brought on by the advent of a mass society colporteuse a mass culture. Kant grants the aesthetic experience of beauty in the ability to induce a judgment reflecting in the subject who observes it. However, Horkheimer and Adorno show that this judgment is, in fact, in our market society, as an ersatz of freedom, in the sense that it is determined by the cultural products that reinforce the dominant ideology in a status quo flawed. No lip balm does not seem to be able to preserve us from despair. However, light at the end of the tunnel there a. In Survivance of the fireflies, Georges Didi-Huberman borrows the image of fireflies to Pier Paolo Pasolini. The fireflies are these people full of poetry that the system can not swallow. The fireflies still exist, and their love of beauty postage is contagious. The fireflies oppose the twinkling of counter-power to the lights dazzling power. In addition, to borrow the words of Milan Kundera, everyone, “without his knowledge, composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in the moments of deepest despair” (The unbearable lightness of being, 1984). Our abatement in the face of the world is not without end.


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