Monique Roelofs is Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College. She is the author of The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic (Bloomsbury, 2014). Currently, she is completing a new book “Arts of Address: How We Relate to Language, People, Things, and Places.” The guest editor of Aesthetics and Race, a special journal issue, she also is co-authoring a book on the aesthetic and temporality in Latin America.
One of the remarkable—yet often overlooked—features of aesthetic experience is its capacity to enact both promises and threats. Neither enlisting itself unequivocally in social utopias, nor allowing itself to be jettisoned in favor of a morally, politically, or epistemically more salutary alternative, the aesthetic domain is a field of pleasure and pain, of ignorance and knowledge, of brutality and life-sustaining agency. Its alliance with invidious forces and histories notwithstanding, the aesthetic enables us to confront tensions in the realms of epistemology,