Sensus and Dissensus Communis

The Comedy of Democracy (Following Cavell)


  • Josef Früchtl University of Amsterdam



film, romanticism, comedy, aesthetic judgement, democracy, common sense


The thesis of the article is that within the framework of Western culture the cinematic comedy again and again can be seen as an aesthetic form where passions for democracy take their way. Following Cavell, philosophy, first, is as a matter of the "human voice" which is, in reference to Kant's third Critique, a "universal voice". The aesthetic judgement insofar is a model of philosophical and, secondly, of democratic judgement. For in Kant, arguing about aesthetic matters means facilitating the communitarisation of confrontation. "Common sense" (sensus communis) is the political term Kant offers for this. Since this term, thirdly, has recently again been appropriated by populist semantics, it is important to stress a radically democratic, with Cavell: a romantic conception of democracy, and to this conception, fourth, the art form of comedy corresponds. Comedy and democracy both  centre around "the common, the familiar, the low", and in laughter give this human-social sphere both an anarchic-democratic level of meaning and a certain, humorous self-reflection. The movie Adam's Rib finally works as an example for this.


No references




How to Cite

“Sensus and Dissensus Communis: The Comedy of Democracy (Following Cavell)”. 2020. Aesthetic Investigations 4 (1): 96-111.