|Session 2: Castoriadis' Method and Epistemology
K. Psychopedis, University of Athens
Castoriadis attempts a criticism of instrumental rationalism based on a non
instrumental discourse referring to the imaginary and to 'magmas'. The question is whether
this discourse corresponds to a broader concept of reason (Vernunft) or on the contrary
leads Castoriadis to an irrationalist position.
This question is approached from four distinct angles. First, in relation to
Castoriadis' critique of the concept of rationality in Kant and Weber. Second, concerning
his theory of society and history and the relation between understanding and explanation
it entails. Third, in relation to Castoriadis' criticism to the concepts of development,
capitalist economy and technique and the type of rationality this criticism implies.
Finally, in relation to the consequences Castoriadis' notion of autonomous action has for
the concept of rationality. Communitarianist and spontaneist elements in the thought of
Castoriadis are noted. I conclude that Castoriadis's problematique leads us to a
substantive theory of values in the contemporary world, a theory however that he did not
C. Castoriadis: The Philosopher of Elucidation and Autonomy.
F. Theodoridis, Uppsala, Sweden
Castoriadis' work provides a threefold contribution to the Greco-western philosophical
and political thought and practice. First, it constitutes a new logic and ontology, the
logic-ontology of magmas, which it superposes to the dominant identitary-ensemblistic
logic-ontology. While the later is based upon the assumptions of determinacy and identity
of the forms of being, constituting in that way the doctrine of reductionism, the former
is based upon the assumptions of creation and otherness of the forms of being,
constituting in that way a conception of being (and time) as creation and alteration of
forms. Second, it defines the imaginary (meaning) as the super-form in and through which
both the psyche and the social-historical do exist, constituting in that way a new
conception of the subject and of the social-historical, but also of the relation between
them. Third, finally, it defines freedom as a project of individual and collective
autonomy, a project that is pertinent to the western civilization, as it comprises its
creation, one of its central social imaginary significations. Thus, in sum, to the
dominant reductionist mode of thinking-doing, Castoriadis puts forward the elucidative
mode of thinking-doing which emerges in his work both as a methodology of understanding of
the psyche and the social-historical and, potentially, as a mode of individual and
collective thinking-doing, non-instrumentally committed to the political-practical project
of pursuing autonomy.
Truth and Praxis in Castoriadis.
K. Kavoulakos, University of Crete
Throughout his entire oeuvre, Cornelius Castoriadis sought to map out a course beyond
objectivism and relativism. A radically anti-idealist and anti-positivist thinker, he gave
in neither to relativism nor to skepticism, believing that the traditional philosophical
antitheses derive from a similarly erroneous understanding of knowledge and truth.
Beginning with a critique of the marxist scientism and objectivism, Castoriadis gave us
the outlines of an alternative notion of truth, which has to be connected with social
practice and the historical context. In The Imaginary Institution of Society, Castoriadis
provides strong arguments in favor of actively transcending the classic dilemmas that in
our days have resurfaced as the conflict between universalism and relativism. Castoriadis
bridges this antithesis by arguing that whereas the particularity of our historical
perspective is a quasi-transcendental precondition of our knowledge, it also defines it
positively, since it is only through the singular/particular that we can access the
universal, which is connected to the critique of the particular and the consequent
emergence/creation of new social meanings. Ultimately, Castoriadis intersects a broader
tradition in European philosophical thought. It is the current of hermeneutic philosophy
with its more contemporary aspects and offshoots.