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Towards an aesthetic praxis: Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, and the realm of necessity




Hilinski, Hunter, author
McIvor, David, advisor
Stevis, Dimitris, committee member
Hempel, Lynn, committee member

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This thesis attempts to put the vast works of Hannah Arendt and Herbert Marcuse in conversation with one another. The study begins by examining the way both interpret the relationship between freedom and necessity, the latter of which is rooted most notably in the work of Karl Marx. Following this interpretation of their works I extract two notable ideas to begin building what I refer to as aesthetic praxis. This combination is centered broadly around Arendt's theory of action and Marcuse's theory of the imagination. The mixture of these ideas serves to investigate three corresponding elements of political affairs: 1.) the connection between the inherent unpredictability of political action and the future-oriented consciousness of political actors, 2.) the role of art, action, and aesthetic expression in times of political and social unrest, and 3.) the relationship between human activity, nature, and the growth of consumerism in the modern world. These pressing and often-overlooked areas of political science, I argue, can be better understood through the lens of an aesthetically driven conception of political action, where the dynamism of political activity and the growth of an aesthetic consciousness promote the development of new methods of self-discovery, thus transforming the realm of politics into a more open, connected, and engaged democratic collective.


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