Orienting Authentic Judgements: Adrian Piper's Contributions to Black Aesthetics
Migan, Darla Senami
The philosopher Adrian Margaret Smith Piper has labored hard to show how theories of knowledge and theories of motivation are deeply embedded in a ‘conception of self’ that guides how self-conception functions for the recognition of personhood. Through this radical theory of embedded personhood, based on her Kant-inspired reconstruction of the rational self, Piper demonstrates how racism is but one (albeit deeply complex and painful) incidence of xenophobia. I bring critical attention to the lessons Piper offers on the development of self-understanding by showing how her neo-Kantian theory of the rational self bears on the tradition of theorizing black aesthetics. Specifically, it is in the discourse of Kant’s Enlightenment-era philosophical anthropology and aesthetic theory where I find evidence for the claim that it is only particularly embodied, individual agents’ who have the potential to progressively develop universal freedom. This subjective-universal schematic, central to Kant’s theory of knowledge and which inspires Piper’s own theory of the deep structure of personhood, is echoed in Kant’s theory of judgment in the Critique of the Power of Judgment. Most urgently for the task of this dissertation, it is important to analyze how this transcendental-anthropological schematic informs modern theories of ‘black aesthetics' that have, to their credit and to their detriment, inherited the spirit of the Enlightenment project.