On Castoriadis and the Social Imaginary Institution of the Real: Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Affinities and Critiques via His Dialogue with Merleau-Ponty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In his "Preface" to The Imaginary Institution of Society (1987 [1975]), Cornelius Castoriadis notes that the "properly philosophical aspect of the question of the imaginary and of the imagination" was reserved for another work-in­-progress - L'element imaginaire - which was to be published soon (1987: 6). Regrettably, this work remained unfinished and, apart from a few fragments, unpublished. Nonetheless, Castoriadis continued to develop his response to the question of the imaginary (and the imagination) throughout his intellec­tual trajectory. The imaginary element can be understood as the creative core of the human condition, which creates ex nihilo figures and forms that make the world - and this particular social world - possible. Castoriadis's approach brings the philosophical question of the creative imagination to bear on the sociological theme of social creativity within an overall theory of meaning. In so doing, he forges a distinctive framework for understanding the human condition in its twofold aspect of the radical imagination as psyche and the radical imaginary as social-historical. The radical imaginary is a dimension of society; it is transsubjective, unmotivated, and anonymous.3 As such, unlike the imagination, it is irreducible to a faculty of the mind or, more broadly, to a capacity of the embodied self. This chapter focuses on the imaginary ele­ment in its social-historical mode as a dimension of society, in general, and as instituting society as the radical imaginary, in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStretching the Limits of the Productive Imagination
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Kantianism, Phenomenology, and Hermeneutics
EditorsSaulius Geniusas
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherRowman and Littlefield
Chapter9
Pages163-186
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781786604354
ISBN (Print)9781786604330
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Castoriadis
  • imaginary
  • creative imagination
  • philosophy

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