Nikos Papastergiadis

Cosmos for the world. From the moral imperative to the creative constitutive of cosmopolitanism

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Keywords: cosmopolitanism, contemporary art, Stoics, Kant, Habermas, Derrida, imagination.

How do we imagine the world? In this article I explore artistic and philosophical investigations on cosmopolitanism that go beyond the recent efforts to expand the regional boundaries and formal categories in global art and culture. It begins with an observation that the contemporary artistic visions of the cosmos do not entirely overlap with the recent philosophical discourses on cosmopolitanism. My aim is to re-think this tension by re-booting a dialogue between ancient theories on the cosmos and examples from contemporary art practice. I take seriously the claims by artists that aesthetic experience is connected to cosmic energy. However, artistic propositions do not sit easily alongside the philosophical discussions on cosmopolitanism that are dominated by normative framework. As a consequence artists complain about the poverty of the theories of creation and are uncomfortable with art historical models that rely on excessive forms of contextual analysis or revert to some lazy ideas of genius. I propose to re-examine the process of artistic creation with the framework of aesthetic cosmopolitanism. It will require a closer look at how artists are exploring new horizons of belonging and developing worldviews that exceed the old universalist paradigms. The wider scope of this article is to offer an outline of cosmopolitanism that is not confined to the strictures of a moral imperative, but also includes an embodiment of the creative constitutive.

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