Castoriadis and the Non-Subjective Field: Social Doing, Instituting Society and Political Imaginaries

Critical Horizons 13 (1):29 - 51 (2013)
Cornelius Castoriadis understood history as a self-creating order. In turn, he elaborated history in two directions: as the political project of autonomy, and as the ontological modality of the social-historical. On his account, history as self-creation was only possible through the interplay of social (or political) imaginaries and social doing. Although social imaginaries are readily situated within the non-subjective field, non-subjective modes of doing have been less explored. Yet non-subjective contexts are integral to both the “doing” and “imaginary” dimensions of the human condition, and form the preconditions for concrete varieties of social and political action and politics (as la politique), more generally. The present paper begins to clear a path to reflect on social doing in its non-subjective aspects; as such, it is preparatory rather than programmatic. After briefly reviewing the field of “social imaginaries”, it reflects on Castoriadis’s elaboration of “praxis” and “teukhein”. It then considers Johann Arnason’s culturological reconfiguration of Castoriadis’s approach, and Jan Patočka’s asubjective phenomenology of the movement of human existence as different ways of engaging with the problematic of doing, instituting society and political imaginaries. Despite a gradual subordination of “doing” to “signification” in Castoriadis’s philosophical elaborations, “social doing” as a non-subjective modality does not disappear altogether from his thought – especially and explicitly in respect to the phenomenon of instituting society as a political project – and remains a point of recurring intrusion into his more explicit theoretical concerns
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DOI 10.1558/crit.v13i1.29
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Suzi Adams (2009). Dimensions of the World. Chiasmi International 11:111-129.

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