Wesleyan University

Javier Castro-Ibaseta, Disinterested Interest: Toward a Theory of Political Publics


This talk will address the issue of political publics: that is, groups of peoples sharing an interest in following political life, mostly through the media (news). Castro-Ibaseta's theory is based upon the idea that, contrary to what common sense seems to dictate, the "interest" that holds a political public together is not a social or political interest, but an aesthetic one (according to Kantian aesthetics, an aesthetic interest can be defined as a "disinterested interest"). The attachment that holds the political public together is thus not an attachment to political life itself, but to political information (that is, to the representation of political life). The closest parallel to a political public is not a group of interest, a political association, a political party, or a social movement, but the audience of a movie (or rather of a TV show) or some other narrative artifact. This does not mean that a political public is a passive entity: rather, it means that the nature of the power does not reside in its political activity, but in their critical judgment.

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