Imagination and Tragic Democracy

Critical Horizons 13 (1):12 - 28 (2012)
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Cornelius Castoriadis is one of the very few social and political philosophers – modern and ancient – for whom a concept of imagination is truly central. In his work, however, the role of imagination is so overarching that it becomes difficult to grasp its workings and consequences in detail, in particular in its relation to democracy as the political form in which autonomy is the core imaginary signification. This article will proceed by first suggesting some clarifications about Castoriadis’s employment of the concept. This preparatory exploration will allow us in a second step to discuss why the idea of democracy is closely linked to tragedy, and why this linkage in turn is dependent on the centrality of imagination for human action. In a third conceptual step, finally, we suggest that any concept of imagination will need to take into account the plurality and diversity of the outcomes of the power of imagination. Thus, the question of the nature of the novelty that imagination creates needs to be addressed as well as the one of the agon in the face of different imagined innovations in a given democratic political setting. As a consequence of this shift in emphasis, to be elaborated further, one will be able to say more about one question of which Castoriadis was well aware, which he never addressed himself in detail, though: the decline and end of polities and political forms, the question of political mortality



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Growth and degrowth: Dewey and self-limitation.Andrew James Thompson - 2022 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 54 (14):2532-2541.

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References found in this work

Imagination in Discourse and in Action.Paul Ricoeur - 1994 - In Gillian Robinson & John F. Rundell (eds.), Rethinking Imagination: Culture and Creativity. Routledge. pp. 118--35.
Towards a theory of synagonism.Nathalie Karagiannis & Peter Wagner - 2005 - Journal of Political Philosophy 13 (3):235–262.

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