Kant’s famous Enlightenment article is a crucial but overlooked source for his aesthetics. This essay unlocks its aesthetic significance by scrutinizing the mode of address in which Kant grounds his enlightenment project. Enlightenment, for Kant, revolves around the address we direct as men of learning to the reading public. If left free, this address, argues Kant, enables us to become mündig (mature) or, in other words, to learn to think and act for ourselves. Kant’s vision invokes the mouth (Mund) along with other bodily media of address (reading, writing). Presenting the mouthly in and beyond Kant as a site of aesthetic agency and experience, this essay reveals how he aestheticizes enlightenment. Kant’s use of address underwrites an expanded array of demands and commitments cocooned within his view of enlightenment and vastly broadens the resonance of his call for enlightenment. Kant’s aesthetics bursts beyond the bounds it has ordinarily been given.
Kantian Mouthliness: Enlightenment, Address, Aesthetics
monique roelofs is an associate professor of philosophy at Hampshire College. She is the author of The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic () and editor of Aesthetics and Race, a special issue of Contemporary Aesthetics (2009), and is currently completing a new monograph, “Arts of Address.” She is also coauthoring a book provisionally titled “Aesthetics and Anachronism in Latin America.”
Monique Roelofs; Kantian Mouthliness: Enlightenment, Address, Aesthetics. differences 1 September 2015; 26 (2): 29–60. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3145949
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