Théorie politique

H16(c) - The Neglected Generation of the Frankfurt School Critical Theory: Gillian Rose’s Critique of Aesthetic Representation, Authoritarianism, and Authority

Date: Jun 14 | Heure: 08:30am to 10:00am | Salle:

Gillian Rose’s philosophical legacy can be understood as the culmination of a distinctly modern critical theory. In her magnum opus, The Broken Middle: Out of Our Ancient Society, she contends that modern social philosophy has become akin to that of classical antiquity. This assertion does not essentialize Western modernity as the one and only tradition but emphasizes that the persistence of social contradictions that this tradition engendered puts any project of critical knowledge under the risk of succumbing to the most pernicious pitfalls of modernity: subjectivism, identity thinking, domination, and Fascism. The interrelation between free-market capitalism and authoritarian politics lies at the root of the persistence of these contradictions, while central to Rose’s emancipatory response to them is an aesthetic revival of the notion of authority. This panel aims to highlight her approach and method as a neglected "generation" of the Frankfurt School. Contributions will delve into Rose’s aesthetic critique, exploring her vision of universal emancipation, her examination of the problem of authority, and her contentious engagement with the issue of modern Judaism. Bogdan Ovcharuk’s paper will discuss the scholarly reception of Rose’s criticism of modernity and Fascism, highlighting her extensive engagement with aesthetic figures to articulate a substantially democratic politics of “political personae in facetious style." Isabelle Le Bourdais will scrutinize the question of authority and aesthetic representation within the context of the ontological debate. Viktoriya Vinik will offer a timely exploration of Rose’s criticism of Zionism and the aesthetic dimension of emancipatory Jewish politics.

Political Personae in Facetious Style: Gillian Rose’s Aesthetic Critique of Fascism: Bogdan Ovcharuk (York University)
Abstract: Rose’s interdisciplinary theory offers a critique of authoritarian domination and champions universal emancipation through the means of aesthetic representation. Gorman (2016) suggests that Rose insufficiently addresses fascism, appearing more consumed by critiquing liberal moral subjectivism in a way that tacitly relies on 'Nietzschean' and 'Benjaminian' violent politics—a sentiment echoed by Milbank’s critique (2015) of Rose’s alleged entrapment within modernity's nihilism. Counter to this, I posit that Rose’s stance on modernity and her emancipatory politics are deeply rooted in an exploration of fascism's social preconditions and an aesthetic articulation of substantial democracy. First, Rose’s critique of the Kantian schism between morality and legality, as manifested in bourgeois civil society, delineates fascism as the victory of bourgeois interests under arbitrary authority. Rose does not rely on Benjamin’s 'divine violence'; instead, she uses his aesthetic works to historicize fascism as a response to the crisis of authority in modernity. Engaging Nietzsche, Rose contests the inherently violent nature of the 'will to power', viewing it also as a myth that potentially overcomes fascist ressentiment stemming from the failure to mediate the morality-legality dichotomy and the inherent tensions of bourgeois civil society. Drawing upon Mann’s literary confrontation with fascism, Rose finally develops an aesthetics of political personae, influenced by literary giants such as Goethe and Dostoyevsky. These personae, navigating the modern crisis of authority, employ myth-making to offer a substantially democratic politics. The facetious politics of political personae permits renouncing bourgeois subjectivity, thus sidestepping the trap of fascist ressentiment that it yields in modernity.

Philosophic Style and the Authority of Authorship with T.W. Adorno and G. Rose: Isabelle Le Bourdais (York University)
Abstract: This presentation examines the status of aesthetics in philosophical authorship through Adorno and Rose’s criticism of Heidegger. Heidegger’s use of poetry - especially Hölderlin - and his ‘poeticization’ of philosophy are indeed denounced by Adorno as unsuccessful attempts to make “Being itself speak”. How and why is the aesthetic dimension of Heidegger’s philosophical language, which sees itself as “the house of Being’s truth” (Heidegger), is rather ‘fascism’s refuge’ (Adorno)? My paper attempts to answer this question by fleshing out an antifascist critique of authority in philosophical authorship, building on Adorno’s critique of German existentialism and Gillian Rose’s aesthetic authorship. I first outline how Adorno posits Heidegger’s philosophy as an essentialization-mythologization of Being (Schroyer 1973); trying to attain immediate concreteness and reconciliation without addressing social relations, its language “dresses empirical words with aura” (Adorno) and relapses into the abstraction characteristic of commodity fetishism. Then, following Rose, I examine Heideggerian ontology’s quest to abolish philosophical representation, notably through a philosophic style that tries to “find its way to Being via the aesthetics of the sublime '' (Rose Mourning). Thus Heidegger, in his refusal of ground characteristic of philosophical antihumanism, paradoxically reintroduces absolute authority of authorship. Finally, I highlight with Rose and Adorno how the problem of philosophical authorship can be tackled, against the aestheticization of philosophy, by an “aesthetic sensitivity to the social content of language” (Stahl 1975), present in a dialectic of singularity and universality and ironic philosophical style.

Love No Longer Rebounding into Violence: Aesthetic Dimensions of Jewish Emancipatory Politics: Viktoriya Vinik (York University)
Abstract: In The Broken Middle, Gillian Rose identifies the problem with Zionism to be that it seeks to mend the middle with love that rebounds into violence. In response to Levinas, her criticism is that by prioritizing ethics he mends the brokenness with love, which politically means a love of the nation-state, Zionism (Rose, 1992). Rose’s (1993) critique offers two insights: 1) it shows how violence emanates from the middle, the civil society, and how mending this violence with love is an ideological move that conceals the structures of domination and 2) that such mending of the brokenness goes against the political attitude that the Jews developed historically, an exilic attitude that is particularly attuned to negotiating inner and outer boundaries of political communities. In her chapter on Fascism, Rose (1992) examines Thomas Mann's artistic aspiration to liberate “myth out of the hands of Fascists,” wherein he elucidates a mythical genesis of a “new humanism.” This paper will offer a path for emancipatory Jewish politics using Mann’s myth of a new humanity and the Jewish themes that play out in Rose’s examination of Mann. To do so, my paper will 1) examine Mann's myth of a new humanity and its Jewish themes, 2) juxtapose Mann’s ideas of humanism as presented by Rose with Levinas’ (1968) Zionism, 3) relate Levinas’ (1961) dualism between ethics and halacha to Kant’s dualism between freedom and nature (1781), and 4) ultimately offering a Jewish politics that does not allow structures of domination to go unchallenged.