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Religions 2019, 10(3), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030216

Testimonial Image Practices as a Politics of Aesthetics after Levinas

Media Anthropology Center of Excellence, Bauhaus-University Weimar, 99423 Weimar, Germany
Received: 12 February 2019 / Revised: 13 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Levinas and the Political)
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Abstract

The transition from ethics to politics still lacks a proper understanding. I propose thinking of this transition in terms of a politics of aesthetics. However, thinking about a politics of aesthetics means also thinking about images and their prohibition. The prohibition of images has a long history, dating back to the Bible and Plato; its implications are crucial for image theory. Since Levinas did not systematically develop a political theory, aesthetics, or image theory, it is necessary to collect and systematize his distributed statements. Having image theory as a starting point for a politics of aesthetics, I choose a media philosophical approach to identify the mediality of the image after Levinas. Key elements for a Levinasian image theory are the temporal aspect of its transient appearance, its involving affective power, and its negativity. I propose to think of this image theory as an image-pragmatics that testifies and responds not only to the Other but also to the mediality of the image. With Levinas it becomes possible to turn the prohibition of images into a commandment to remember. I call this a testimonial image practice that becomes a regulatory idea for a politics of aesthetics. View Full-Text
Keywords: Emmanuel Levinas; politics and the political; politics of aesthetics; image theory; ethics and aesthetics; media philosophy; testimony Emmanuel Levinas; politics and the political; politics of aesthetics; image theory; ethics and aesthetics; media philosophy; testimony
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Bennke, J. Testimonial Image Practices as a Politics of Aesthetics after Levinas. Religions 2019, 10, 216.

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