Davide Sparti

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«Ethics and Aesthetics Are One». From Wittgenstein to Argentine Tango

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Wittgenstein, Ethics, Aesthetics, Tango, Improvisation.

Using the case of improvisation in argentine tango, and relying on Wittgenstein, I explain why we should consider those engaged in forms of joint creativity (such as tango dancers) moral agents, showing at the same time to what extent aesthetic and ethical practices are intertwined. By relying on Stanley Cavell, I show how Wittgenstein’s central aim in his later discussions of language and of understanding, enacted in his writings and expected to be re-enacted by the reader, is to bring us to see to what extent our practices depend upon a basic form of responsiveness to others that is itself moral in character. The emphasis is less on moral judgement than on a radical re-visioning of the social world we live in. Tango is fundamentally a relation between persons, and raises, or rather displays, ethical questions such as the experience of the other mattering to us, or the extent we have allowed our identities to be our own or failed to do so (shedding light on the never fully mastered demands and desires that form the subject and his relations to others), thus exemplifying a co-operative version of Wittgenstein’s therapeutic method.

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