The Critical-Linguistic Critique of the Aesthetic Ideology in the Late Writing of Paul de Man

Jeremy Spencer


The focus of this essay is Paul de Man's provocative antipathy towards the category of the aesthetic in his late writings on philosophical aesthetics. I introduce de Man's critique of what he terms aesthetic ideology – a form of ideological communication – which he considers manifest in the aesthetics of Schiller in particular but also in more scrupulously critical philosophers. I begin the essay with Benjamin's well known observation that twentieth century fascisms aestheticized political practice as part of a defence of existing property relations. I introduce de Man's critique of aesthetic ideology as a way of developing or elaborating on what are relatively sketchy comments on the relationship aesthetics and politics in Benjamin's earlier essay.


Paul de Man, ideology, aesthetic, the aesthetics of politics, materialism

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