Axel Rudolphi

Axel Rudolphi, PhD student in Aesthetics

“Think for yourself,” may be seen as the core motto of Enlightenment philosophy. It is also an idea that has played an influential role in philosophical aesthetics since Immanuel Kant, through the idea that aesthetic judgments must be made autonomously, without deferral to the aesthetic opinions of others. But in what way are we actually rather dependent on others when making aesthetic judgments?

In this project I consider Hannah Arendt’s critical reading of Kant’s aesthetic theory as, in fact, containing a fundamental commitment to pluralism and to the consideration of the perspectives of others, as a condition for the normativity of political and aesthetic judgments alike. Drawing on Arendt’s critique of Kant, I argue that claims of autonomous judgment can be harmonized with a condition of external dependency. This can be done through a transcendental theory of ‘aesthetic triangulation’ in which the relations between self, other, and object are irreducibly seen as mutually supportive.