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Abstract

To be democratic, a society’s members should be endowed with capacities and dispositions to communicate and understand the diversity of each other’s experiences. Philosophical traditions have explored various forms of injustice arising in societies failing to meet this democratic criterion, including material and psychological harm. But when exploring methods for cultivating and enhancing such democratic-communicative behavior, cognitive processes and intellectual instruction can face documented obstacles such as defensiveness, motivated ignorance, and perceptual-interpretive bias. Art, by virtue of its dealing in aesthetic experience, possesses several unique capacities for facilitating communication between diverse people and encouraging understanding of each other’s lived experiences, while overcoming the limitations of exclusively or heavily cognitive approaches. This paper explains three cumulative capacities of aesthetic forms which make them indispensable instruments for cultivating dispositions of democratic communication, including the avoidance of explicit argumentation, the communication of experiential immediacy, and the transformation of pre-existing interpretive frameworks. In doing so, it argues that art plays a crucial function in democratic society.

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