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(p.24) II Whole
Caroline Levine
Princeton University Press

This chapter takes its lead from the long traditions of thought that seek to link aesthetic, philosophical, and political domains by way of the bounded whole. It explores the claim that aesthetic objects share the formal property of unity with exclusive political communities and grounding philosophical concepts, but along the way, it poses a question that is not familiar in this tradition, a question about the affordances of bounded wholes. Most critics have attended to one crucial set of affordances, focusing their attention on the fact that totalities exclude and imprison. In the process, they have not stopped to ask whether they might lay claim to other, more progressive affordances as well. Paying attention to the full range of affordances of literary and political wholes will challenge the assumption that all totalities must be disrupted or broken. In fact, we cannot do without bounded wholes: their power to hold things together is what makes some of the most valuable kinds of political action possible at all.

Keywords:   bounded wholes, aesthetic objects, philosophical domains, political domains, unity

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