Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Dr. Antonio Calcagno


This thesis focuses on the political significance of Kant’s aesthetics, as it is taken up in the political thought o f Hannah Arendt and Jacques Rancière. While both Arendt and Rancière model their notions of political community on Kant’s notion of sensus communis, or aesthetic common sense, I point to important differences in their respective appropriations of Kant. Whereas Arendt draws out of Kant’s work on aesthetic judgment a politics of adherence to common sense (consensus), Rancière looks to Kant’s concepts of disinterest and disconnection to develop a politics of “dissensus”, aimed at reconfiguring common sense along more egalitarian lines. I argue that Rancière’s ability to account, not just for the aesthetic partitioning of communities, but also for their radical transformation or re­ partitioning through dissensus, makes him better able than Arendt to account for the introduction o f political subjects rendered invisible and audible by historically cemented forms of common sense.



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