Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 341–358 | Cite as

From freedom to equality: Rancière and the aesthetic experience of equality

  • Rika DunlapEmail author


This article examines Rancière’s political reading of aesthetics through a historical analysis into the two aesthetic theories of freedom at work in Rancière’s philosophy; Kant’s freedom as self-governance and Schiller’s freedom as harmony. While aesthetic experience is considered morally conducive through its association with freedom, this article argues that Rancière translates such discussions of freedom into that of equality by extracting the political dimensions of aesthetic experience. Given that art has the unique ability to empower the spectator through its aesthetic experience of equality, the true political potential of art arises from its power to redistribute the sensible rather than through the overt expression of political themes. By juxtaposing Rancière’s politics of art with Kant’s beauty as the symbol of morality, this article argues that art becomes a symbol of political emancipation for Rancière in its capacity to generate the experience of equality. Inasmuch as Rancière attributes the aesthetic revolution to the eighteenth century, it becomes evident that the empowerment of the spectator has been central to art since the inauguration of the aesthetic regime.


Rancière Kant Schiller Aesthetics Equality Freedom 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North PoleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Hawaii, MānoaHonoluluUSA

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