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Les subjectivités cosmopolitiques et la question esthétique

Abstract : How to make ecology into a political force without limiting it to managerial, political and technocratic practices? Which common world does it offer us? We here present ongoing research exploring the development of a general ecology within a cosmopolitical and aesthetic perspective. The unfinished aspect of this research explains the hypothetical and suggestive form of this text.

First of all, a few introductory items to serve as parts of a framework. The notion of cosmopolitics was developed by Kant in his Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (Kant 1795, 1970) in order to guarantee world peace in a sustainable manner. The cosmopolitical project relies on three hypotheses: the peaceful character of republics, the socializing virtue of international trade, and the regulating function of the international public sphere, in order to propose a universal Republic, real federation of free and peaceful states, and an alliance of peoples guaranteed by the emergence of international law between states, and cosmopolitical law, preserving foreigners' rights against these states (rights of visit and hospitality). This anticipation of democratic politics to be used by the peoples of the world is currently witnessing renewed interest. Most contemporary western reflections bear on the conditions to be met in a cosmopolitical democracy (Held, 1996, Archibugi Held 1999): a preliminary commitment to democracy from each citizen of the world, and the possibility of a worldwide political order that goes beyond the globalization of financial and economic markets in order to create a pacified common world with the other cultures and civilizations.

Some researchers (including Beck 1986, Stengers 1996-97, Latour 2004) go even further in their requirement for a cosmopolitical integration of what is alien: according to them, cosmopolitics imply the composition of a common world with non-humans: natural entities, at-risk entities, scientific artefacts, technical devices, symbolic worlds, etc...This is about “making sciences and technologies come into democracy,” and about re-defining the human by adding to it its missing part: things (Latour 1993). Our article partakes of this perspective. Our idea of cosmopolitics starts with the concept as it has been reworded by Isabelle Stengers and with the debates of the international Cerisy colloquium on the emergence of cosmopolitics, which was held from September 20th to 27th 2003.

Cosmopolitics, politics of the cosmos or politics of worlds, are experimental politics, aiming at creating a common world without cutting our ties to our worlds. The notion of world stresses a competence common to all human subjects:we create worlds via a creative process that defines us as subjectivities:a subject in his world, which surrounds him and goes beyond him. These worlds of the subject could represent “the places of the common world”. True to the ancient concept of a cosmos as linking microcosm and macrocosm, a politics of the cosmos will try to organize our own worlds, “microworlds” which are conflicting with each other and which are apparently incompatible, with the aim of a common world. However, can we suggest a cosmos for a common world there where the universe of modern physics is axiologically neutral? Indeed, as Augustin Berque reminds us, the Greek word kosmos has three meanings: “order”, “world” and “costume,” but can the composition of things making up the world, its organization, still abide by ethical and aesthetic principles?

The word cosmopolitics is an oxymoron uniting the two opposed modalities that compose the collective: the polis and the cosmos. Bringing these two terms into tension with each other brings to mind an arrangement where cosmos and politics will make reference to each other. Cosmos is an inhabitable common world, “the habitat in a well organized house of the world” (Sloterdijk 2003). It implies a partition between our own space, that of our particular worlds, and an alien or foreign outside. Referring to habitability enables us to put to the test the two complementary modes of putting together the shared world that are privileged by modernity, political justification and scientific proof, which are going to homogenize to an extreme the components of the future common world, whether the universe or the city, and neglect the necessary partition to such an extent that the “macroworld” might become uninhabitable; in other words, the cosmos might be destroyed. This decosmization (Berque 2000) can be explained by the fact that science and politics come too fast to an agreement when they disqualify “aesthetics in a broad sense, i.e. the aisthêsis, the ability to feel, to perceive with your senses” (Berque 2000) or, even more so, when they reprove the ability to imagine and to envisage a common world as an aim. These faculties combine apprehension through the senses and aesthetic judgement. Conversely, the reference to politics aims, with democracy as the target, to go beyond the issue of singular worlds.

The aesthetic perspective creates a category of experience that is different from the scientific one (Dewey 1980, Reid, Taylor 2003). Its ambition is that of creating a habitable common world based on each and every one's capacity to collectively imagine it and shape it; it is therefore a vitalistic and creative perspective, and sometimes an exhilarating one; it builds upon the affects and intends to be more rigorous towards the totality of living things. It could counteract the hegemony of the scientific and the political world-building modes by specifying the creative openings and the ethical requirements that the aesthetic composition of the common world make possible: respiration, gestation, respect, and density.

To present our research process, we will start with the world of subjects as analyzed today by environmental and politistic research paths, then we will examine how some of these paths lead to theorizing a common world based on the creative openings suggested by artists.
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Jacques Lolive, Nathalie Blanc. Les subjectivités cosmopolitiques et la question esthétique. Jacques Lolive et Olivier Soubeyran. L'émergence des cosmopolitiques, La découverte, pp.352-383, 2007. ⟨halshs-00419405⟩



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