As a work of social theory, I would argue that it belongs in a class with the writings of Habermas and Arendt". -- Jay Bernstein, University of Essex This is one of the most original and important works of contemporary European thought.
This collection presents a broad and compelling overview of the most recent work by a world-renowned figure in contemporary thought. The book is in four parts: Koinonia, Polis, Psyche, Logos. The opening section begins with a general introduction to the author's views on being, time, creation, and the imaginary institution of society and continues with reflections on the role of the individual psyche in racist thinking and acting. The second part is a critique of those who now belittle and distort (...) the meaning of May 1968 and other movements of the sixties as well as the French Revolution. In part three, Castoriadis shows how psychoanalysis, like politics, can contribute to the project of individual and collective autonomy and challenges Lacan, Foucault, and Derrida, and others in his report on 'The State and Subject Today'. Finally he examines how Aristotle's original aporetic discovery and cover-up of the imagination were repeated by Kant, Freud, Heidegger, and even Merleau-Ponty. (shrink)
These remarkable essays include Cornelius Castoriadis's latest contributions to philosophy, political and social theory, classical studies, development theory, cultural criticism, science, and ecology. Examining the "co-birth" in ancient Greece of philosophy and politics, Castoriadis shows how the Greeks' radical questioning of established ideas and institutions gave rise to the "project of autonomy". The "end of philosophy" proclaimed by Postmodernism would mean the end of this project. That end is now hastened by the lethal expansion of technoscience, the waning of political (...) and social conflict, and the resignation of intellectuals who blindly defend Western culture as it is or who merely denounce or "deconstruct" it as it has been. Discussing and criticizing Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Weber, Heidegger, and Habermas, the author of The Imaginary Institution of Society and Crossroads in the Labyrinth poses a radical challenge to our inherited philosophy. (shrink)
In this posthumous collection of writings, Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997) pursues his incisive analysis of modern society, the philosophical basis of our ability to change it, and the points of intersection between his many approaches to this theme. His main philosophical postulate, that the human subject and society are not predetermined, asserts the primacy of creation and the possibility of creative, autonomous activity in every domain. This argument is combined with penetrating political and social criticism, opening numerous avenues of critical thought (...) and action. The book’s wide-ranging topics include the core worldview of ancient Athens, where the idea of self-creation and self-limitation made democracy possible; the wealth of poetic resources; a deconstruction of the so-called rationality of capitalism and of the current conception of democracy, along with a discussion of what a radical, revolutionary project means today; the role of what he calls the radical imagination in the creation of both societal institutions and history; the roots of hate; a psychoanalytic view of human development torn between heteronomy and autonomy; the role of education in forming autonomous individuals; and notions of chaos, space, and number. (shrink)
Cornelius Castoriadis is a fascinating figure, not only because of his personal and intellectual background, but because of the extraordinary breadth of his interests and his ability to play the brilliant intellectual jester - all characteristics in abundant evidence in this collection of essays. In them, Castoriadis goes to the heart of deep philosophical issues raised but not answered by modern thought.The book presents his concerns with the development of analytical theories of psychology, language, and politics, all commonly rooted in (...) the social and historical aspects of human creativity. It examines figures as diverse as Aristotle, Heidegger, Lacan, Marx, and Merleau-Ponty.Cornelius Castoriadis was for a long time a professional economist and is now a practicing psychoanalyst in Paris. He founded and became the main theoretician for the independent journal of the left, Socialisme ou Barbarie. (shrink)
In the intellectual confusion prevailing since the demise of Marxism and “marxism”, the attempt is made to define democracy as a matter of pure procedure, explicitly avoiding and condemning any reference to substantive objectives. It can easily be shown, however, that the idea of a purely procedural “democracy” is incoherent and self‐contradictory. No legal system whatsoever and no government can exist in the absence of substantive conditions which cannot be left to chance or to the workings of the “market” but (...) must be posited as objectives of political activity. The confusion results from a deficient understanding of what makes a society and an empty idea of “freedom”. The objective of politics is not happiness, an affair to be left to the individuals, but it certainly is liberty understood as participation in the governance of the polity; it is also the pursuit of the common good, defined as the sum of the prerequisites and facilitations of individual autonomy depending on collective action, and as the realization of commonly agreed collective goals. (shrink)
The question of man is a question of philosophical anthropology. It raises a particular problem because man is both the subject and object of any knowledge of man. This question has ontological consequences, because man is the one being that can have knowledge of himself and can change himself and the laws of his existence. Such knowledge and change, however, are not innate to man but are creations that have both psychical and social-historical presuppositions and implications. The question of de (...) jure validity arises with the creation of politics and philosophy and can be made more precise in the question: How can the valid be effective and the effective be valid? Politics, as the lucid and reflective activity that interrogates itself about society's institutions and attempts to change them, is a creation of a new anthropological type: reflective and deliberative subjectivity. Today's `liberal oligarchies', falsely labelled `democratic', proclaim liberty and equality, but an analysis of the present heteronomous situation of a majority of the world's population and of the compromise nature of liberal oligarchic regimes shows how partial has been their realization. (shrink)
The project of autonomy is not a utopia (1992) -- Why I am no longer a Marxist (1974) -- Imaginary significations (1982) -- Response to Richard Rorty (1995) -- On wars in Europe (1992) -- On the possibility of creating g new form of society (1977) -- What political parties cannot do (1979) -- Present issues for democracy (1986) -- These are bad times (1986) -- Do vanguards exist? (1987) -- What revolution is (1987) -- Neither a historical necessity nor (...) simply an "ethical" exigency: a political and human exigency (1988) -- When the east swings to the west (1989) -- The market, capitalism, and democracy (1990) -- "Democracy" without citizens' participation (1991) -- The Gulf War: setting things straight (1991) -- Gorbachev: neither reform no backtracking (1991) -- On war, religion, and politics (1991) -- Communism, fascism, and emancipation (1991) -- Ecology against the merchants (1992) -- The revolutionary potency of ecology (1992) -- A society adrift (1993) -- On political judgment (1995) -- Neither resignation nor archaism (1995) -- A rising tide of significany? (1996) -- A singular trajectory (1992). (shrink)
This is the first English translation of a remarkable two-part lecture given by Cornelius Castoriadis at the École des hautes etudes en sciences sociales in January 1992. The lecture features within a series on social transformation and the task of creative forms of labour. In this installment Castoriadis explores the significance of art through a creative reading of Aristotle's famous definition of tragedy in the Poetics. He rejects Aristotle's dependence on the mimetic tradition in search for a vision of art (...) as the unveiling of the creative resources that lie within the human being. Yet he retains Aristotle's vivid depiction of art as a form of production that is at once cognitive, emotive and social. Art, for Castoriadis, affects a transformation on the level of imagination that opens us anew to the fundamental questions of human being and doing. Through his extensive knowledge of western forms of artistic production Castoriadis draws lucid connections between Aristotle, Shakespeare, Kant, Hegel, Greek sculpture, renaissance painting, modern literature and folk music to explore the work of art as a ‘window into chaos’, a creative production that gives form to what cannot be formed: the ground of creativity at the heart of the imagination. (shrink)
This paper considers the crisis of the identification process from the social-historical standpoint, for it cannot be understood when divorced from the social totality. Attempts to explain the current crisis in terms of particular institutions such as changes in habitat, a crisis in the family, etc. fail to account for it, since it also manifests itself in milieux and individuals not experiencing these changes directly. The crisis the identification process is undergoing must be seen as a crisis of the central (...) imaginary significations that in the past have held society together. The crisis consists in the fact that contemporary society no longer produces the types that had made it viable as a society wanting itself. The author concludes that there cannot not be a crisis of the identification process, since there is no longer a cathected self-representation of society as the seat of meaning and of value and of a significant past and of a time to come. (shrink)
This posthumous book represents the first publication of one of the seminars of Cornelius Castoriadis, a renowned and influential figure in twentieth-century thought. A close reading of Plato’s Statesman, it is an exemplary instance of Castoriadis’s pragmatic, pertinent, and discriminating approach to thinking and reading a great work: “I mean really reading it, by respecting it without respecting it, by going into the recesses and details without having decided in advance that everything it contains is coherent, homogeneous, makes sense, and (...) is true.” Castoriadis brings out what he calls The Statesman’s “quirky structure,” with its three digressions, its eight incidental points, and its two definitions, neither of which is deemed good. He does not hesitate to differ with the text, to show that what is, in appearance, secondary is really essential, and that the denunciation of the Sophists accommodates itself quite well to the use of sophistical procedures. Castoriadis shows how The Statesman takes us into the heart of what is distinctive in the late Plato: blending, acceptance of the mixed, of the intermediate. These transcriptions of Cornelius’s afford the reader an opportunity to discover his trenchant, convincing, energetic, provocative, and often droll voice. Here is a hitherto unknown Castoriadis, who reflects as he speaks, collects himself, corrects himself, and doesn’t hesitate to revisit key points. In short, this is Castoriadis’s thinking in action. (shrink)
This volume offers an accessible intellectual dialogue on the very nature of critical thought and on its social and political translations. Castoriadis is pushed to address challenges raised by decolonial thought, by critiques of ethnocentrism, and broadly by the international context of radical critical thought.
In the intellectual confusion prevailing since the demise of Marxism and “marxism”, the attempt is made to define democracy as a matter of pure procedure, explicitly avoiding and condemning any reference to substantive objectives. It can easily be shown, however, that the idea of a purely procedural “democracy” is incoherent and self-contradictory. No legal system whatsoever and no government can exist in the absence of substantive conditions which cannot be left to chance or to the workings of the “market” but (...) must be posited as objectives of political activity. The confusion results from a deficient understanding of what makes a society and an empty idea of “freedom”. The objective of politics is not happiness, an affair to be left to the individuals, but it certainly is liberty understood as participation in the governance of the polity; it is also the pursuit of the common good, defined as the sum of the prerequisites and facilitations of individual autonomy depending on collective action, and as the realization of commonly agreed collective goals. (shrink)
Después de haber subrayado las tres dificultades de la definición aristotélica de virtud --el oxímoron hexisproairetiké como aporía central, el equilibrio difícil entre phrórimos y lagos, y la impresión enigmática de ese "en cuanto a nosotros" en relación con el cual todo se juega- el A. muestra que su elucidación otorga asimismo su pleno sentido al proyecto de autonomía que está en el corazón de su obra. Este proyecto, como cualquier otro proyecto filosófico, no podría fundamentarse ni legitimarse a priori. (...) Pero es el único que abre la libertad humana a su dimensión verdadera: a saber, la posición /aceptación de formas nuevas. Lo que no exime de examinar su coherencia interna ni de buscar sus portadores reales en la sociedad. (shrink)
At the founding editor’s invitation in 1991–92, the members of the editorial board and the department editors of Common Knowledge wrote individual and small-group calls for papers to be published in the inaugural issue of Spring 1992 and the succeeding issue, Fall 1992. This call for papers was published among the first group.