Art and Representation: Contributions to Contemporary Aesthetics

By Ananta Ch. Sukla | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Political and Historical Representation



We describe our political system as “representative democracies.” “Democracy,” in the sense of government by the people, was already found in classical Athens. But classical democracy was direct democracy, and direct democracy left no room for (political) representation (this is precisely what so many people, such as Hannah Arendt, always found so extremely attractive in the Greek polis). (Political) representation, on the other hand, is a medieval notion. One may think here of the assemblies of the three estates that were sometimes summoned by the king, and in which the nobility, the clergy, and the third estate were represented. And this certainly was not an early medieval tryout of any form of democracy. Hence, democracy has no intrinsic link with representation, and representation has no intrinsic link with democracy. The miracle of contemporary parliamentary representative democracy is that it nevertheless succeeded in combining these two completely different concepts in an extremely fruitful and creative way. Consequently, representative democracy as we know it is the result of this most unlikely marriage of Athens and the Middle Ages. And this observation invites the then obvious question of how these two notions of democracy and of representation had best be related. Because there is no necessary connection between the two of them, we have to develop an answer to that question independently of what democracy was in Athens and of what representation was in the Middle Ages. In order to develop such an answer, I start with a few remarks about the notion of representation. This may clarify our conception of representative democracy.


In its aesthetic context the notion of representation implies two major theories: the resemblance theory and the substitution theory. According to the former


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Art and Representation: Contributions to Contemporary Aesthetics


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 282

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?