Bridging the abyss : Victor Basch's political and aesthetic mindsetBridging the abyss : Victor Basch's political and aesthetic mindset
Faculty of Arts. History
Centre for Urban History
2013Cambridge :Cambridge University press, 2013
Modern intellectual history. - Cambridge
10(2013):1, p. 87-107
University of Antwerp
This essay cross-examines both the correlation and the disjunction between art philosophy and political reason in the thinking of the French Jewish art philosopher, Kant specialist and socialist politician Victor Basch (1863-1944). Two interwoven lines of questioning will be in play. One considers the extent to which Basch's theory of beauty, which was primarily grounded in a psychological theory of Einfuhlung, was a corollary to his political ideas and practices. The other line of inquiry raises questions about how Basch's political position, namely his anti-facist defending of republican values, became influenced by his work on aesthetics. By answering both questions, this article challenges the traditional historiography of interwar aesthetics. The esaay shows how conceptual debates of aesthetics were not just sterile theoretical products, but to a large extent offered an apparatus to diagnose and orientate a rapidly changing world. Therefore this essay develops a reflection about the gaze needed to take in the complex historical situations from which aesthetic reflections grew, and which in turn they addressed.