'Relative Ignorance': Lingua and linguaggio in Gramsci's concept of a formative aesthetic as a concern for power

John Baldacchino

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    This essay looks at the relationship between formative aesthetics, language and the historical anticipation that begins with Antonio Gramsci's discussion of Kant's idea of noumenon. In Gramsci both education (as formazione) and aesthetics stem from a concern for power in terms of the hegemonic relations that are inherent to history as a political horizon. The title cites Gramci's suggestion that Kant's noumenon should be read as a proviso set apart by a 'relative ignorance' of reality ['relativa ignoranza' della realtà] to be resolved by a future science. Yet far from another epistemological layering, a future science must also resolve those hegemonic relations of power that emerge from formation as a political act figured in the agonistic character of language as lingua and linguaggio. Further down the lane of our 'relative ignorance' we are confronted by a Post-Taylorist condition that precludes any false hopes of a reversal of society's educational, economic and political misfortunes. Yet, while Post-Taylorism confirms that this state of affairs is irreversible, a deeper inquiry into the aesthetic-agonistic character of formation could afford us answers that are in no way solutions but, because adept to struggle and are characteristically aesthetical, might provide an understanding of the logic of irreversibility. Because it remains conscious of its 'relative ignorance', this assumption offers a hopeful approach that comes to us sideways; thereby avoiding the predicament of what Lyotard and Thébaud regarded as a condition where 'the prescriptive is derived from the descriptive'.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)579-597
    Number of pages19
    JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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