Jacques Rancière and the emancipation of bodies

Philosophy and Social Criticism 45 (2):212-238 (2018)
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Abstract

This article contends that Jacques Rancière’s aesthetic understanding of corporeality is central to his interpretation of intellectual emancipation. Concretely, I will argue that Rancière’s aesthetic understanding can be viewed as a torsion of a body that affects its vital arrangements, which thereby open paths for political emancipation. I will support my claim with Rancière’s reading of the plebeian philosopher Gauny, as well as works that have not been sufficiently considered in secondary literature, such as The Nights of Labor and The Ignorant Schoolmaster. My reading will, I maintain, help to question common interpretations of emancipation in Rancière that tend to read this notion either in dichotomous terms or as a merely ephemeral, evental practice with no concrete conditions of possibility and without long-lasting or verifiable effects in the world.

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