Talk:Cornelius Castoriadis

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Much as some of Castoriadis' texts and activities have interested me, I feel that "Castoriadis wrote ground-breaking and trail-blazing essays on physics, ..." contains too much of the hyperbole of a publisher's blurb. If a trail has been blazed, at the very least it needs citation of who has followed onto that new ground and in what way? Until then, I've toned-down that assertion. AllyD 20:27, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Jargonistic passage[edit]

"One of Castoriadis's many important contributions to social theory was the idea that social change involves radical discontinuities that cannot be understood in terms of any determinate causes or presented as a sequence of events. Change emerges through the social imaginary without determinations, but in order to be socially recognized must be instituted as revolution. Any knowledge of society and social change “can exist only by referring to, or by positing singular entities ... which figure and presentify social imaginary significations.”

This paragraph is extremely difficult for the general reader to interpret - it is in strong need of revision so that a general reader can better understand the ideas of this author. Peter G Werner 01:42, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes, and I'm wondering if the paragraph really amount to much more than is encapsulated in the phrase "History as Creation"? (Which was the title of one of the Solidarity (UK) translation pamphlets) AllyD 11:43, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Interest in Creating Entries on His Thought?[edit]

I'm curious how many wikipedia users would be interested in working collectively on entries devoted to Castoriadis' thought and concepts. I've added a list of concepts, but no definitions yet. I'd be more likely to begin this work if I knew that there were others out there who would also be interested in participating, and more likely to simply delete the list without such interest. Responses?--Erik.w.davis 22:28, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Albeit late, I have created a few things on his thoughts. I took the courage to delete the list from the main entry and transfer it here since from what I understand it was mainly a placeholder and a discussion starter rather than a concrete example of his though. Please correct and expand as you see fit. I would be very interested in a discussion on his work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mmick66 (talkcontribs) 09:38, 18 January 2011 (UTC)


I'm extremely new to Castoriadis and have only read "Marxism and Revolutionary Theory." The use of the term 'imaginary' in "M. & R. T." seems quite different from the one presented in the entry here. In "M. & R. T." the imaginary is a component of institutions, etc. that sustains their existence and gives them meaning beyond their purely "functional-economic" components. The imaginary is the creative force that allows this sort of meaning to come into being and to cohere in an institution. The entry here seems to simply say that institutions, etc. are themselves 'imaginaries', which seems kind of backwards. Did Castoriadis also use the term in this way? And/or is the entry here in need of clarification? (Perhaps I just haven't read enough)

I think this is an example of why I was calling for others interested in expanding the section on his concepts and thought, rather than trying to pack it all into the 'works' section. Castoriadis does indeed use 'imaginary' in a number of different ways. Offhand and without attempting to be complete, we can talk about a 'radical imaginary,' which is the truly fundamental imaginary of the human being, and to the 'instituted imaginary,' which are those things which have been 'imagined' into being by individuals and society and brought into a reproducing form (with greater or lesser forms of autonomy). You will certainly need to read more than MRT to get a full idea of Castoriadis' thought on this matter. I would recommend finishing the Imaginary Institution of Society (IIS), and then perhaps reading the short essay "Imaginary and Imagination at the crossroads," in Figures of the thinkable, including Passion and Knowledge., pp. 123-152. which is available at samizdat . Cheers.--Erik.w.davis 19:56, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

The way I understand the term imaginary is synonymous to Myth. The metaphysical story (meta-narrative in postmodern terms) that legitimises the laws and the existing social order. It is collective in nature in that everyone in the said culture takes part in its propagation through the generations. When you say "The entry here seems to simply say that institutions, etc. are themselves 'imaginaries'" might be correct because according to Castoriades laws are always self-legitimising. The Bible for example claims to be correct because it is the word of God, which is a God that it defines first! Religion often plays that role in many traditional societies but the Greeks seem to innovate in that they where aware of that fact and acted accordingly by changing both the laws and the imaginary that legitimised it at will, according to the needs of the times. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mmick66 (talkcontribs) 09:43, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

Influential in Anthropology?[edit]

As a professional anthropologist, with a Ph.D. in the field, I have to question the phrase that "some of Castoriadis' greatest impact in the anglophone world has been in cultural anthropology." Indeed, I would cite a recent (2004) dissertation which argues that he has been somewhat overlooked by anthropology: (_Fields of inclusion and exclusion in the configuration of anthropology: The case of Cornelius Castoriadis._ by Tovar, Marcela.) I also did a quick journal search of the field and found very little impact in anglophone anthropology. I wish this weren't so, but in the meantime I have to dispute the contention. Perhaps the claim ought be deleted?

I will take your expertise in the subject and modify the article

Born in Constantinople, not Istanbul[edit]

Let's keep the Constantinople birthplace, y'all. It's just a fact. No offense to Istanbul, but it wasn't so-named until 1930. --Dylanfly 21:02, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

This edit keeps happening. Perhaps it's somebody with big POV issues about Constantinople's old Roman name, vs. Istanbul's modern Turkish name. I agree that Constantinople wasn't the best name, but it's just an historical fact. --Dylanfly 14:03, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

"Occupied Ottoman Empire"? You Greek people are so 19th century. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:14, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Castoriadis wouldn't give a toss about that — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:20, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 03:52, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Prospective POV editing[edit]

Parts on his thought are needing balance adjustment. Some problem points:

  • "Sociologist Han Joas attempted in the early 1980s to bring Castoriadis' work and thought to an anglophone audience, as have others, with little success." But Castodiadis had substantial English-language presence: Pierre Chaulieu / Paul Cardan articles translated in the 50s-70s; articles and chapters by Dick Howard in the 70s; Contributing editor to Telos in the early 80s; articles in Philosphy & Social Criticism in the 90s.
  • "Part of the problem which may prevent people from engaging with his thought lies in the great specificity he uses to redefine his terms. While he uses traditional terms as much as possible (this may be the result of a desire to avoid overwhelming the reader with neologisms), he consistently redefines these terms and invests them with very specific content." Much of the criticism of Castoriadis (whether by Debord in the 60s, d'Amico or Gonzales in the 80s) has taken a contrary position - that his terminology is neologistic, vague and lacking in the specific.

I'll probably make a start on trying to reduce the viewpoint but thought it better to bring the text in question to the Talk page with a rationale for its subsequent editing. AllyD (talk) 19:20, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Dear AllyD (talk), I think you're good to go. I think the original intent might have been to show that C.C. didn't make as wide of an impact in the anglophone world as he did in continental Europe. It's not a bad point, but then again, (as you imply) do we really need someone speculating as to why? So I think your points are ready to be implemented. That's my POV anyway! :) Smilo Don (talk) 17:00, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Ernst Tugendhat[edit]

I learned of C·s existence through a Berlin seminar by one of Germany· s leading analytical philosophers, Ernst Tugendhat, who may have got to know C. through Habermas (?). C. s book Durchs Labyrinth did probably not sell terribly well, but we were very impressed by C.. Tugendhat liked his Aristotelian Marx interpretation (Tugendhat had studied Latin and Greek and is also a pupil of Heidegger). They fell out publicly over C· s strong anti-"communist" stance on nuclear weapons in Europe.--Radh (talk) 14:31, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Castoriadis classified in the marxist school: Wrong![edit]

I believe it is a big mistake to classify Castoriadis in the Marxist school. If he had ever had the chance to read this written here I am sure he would feel deeply misunderstood and insulted. If you wish to classify Castoriadis into a school, this could only be the Democratic school (the true Democratic school of course, which can be nothing else than direct democracy), or more general the Autonomy school or the Libertarianism school (where Anarchism can be classified too). Regarding Marxism, Castoriadis has always been extremely critical against it, as well as against any ideology or dogma or orthologistic/scientific political/social theory. He has studied Marxism a lot and has gone through it in his early life, but very soon became extremely critical against it. The domination of the word "autonomy" (individual as well as collective) appears very early in his thought. By checking the wikipedia page about Castoriadis in the Greek wikipedia you can see that there he is not classified in any school and this is on purpose (Greek scholars have read him and understood him far better than the people who are writing in this comment page judging from what I can understand from the discussions here. Language definitely played a role in this). To conlude, I believe that it is irrespectful to characterize Castoriadis as Marxist and also extremely misleading for the readers of the article. Having said all this I call anyone who wish to discuss the issue to post here, in other case I will proceed to edit the page in short time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tryfonaration (talkcontribs) 13:36, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Despite the fact that I find the above rhetoric very weak, and also a bit POV-ish ("only Greek scholars understand him beter") and counterfactual (there is no such thing such as "Democratic School of Philosophy"), I nevertheless think it is rather imperative to add Autonomism (a movement associated with Libertarian socialism and the New Left) along with Marxism as Castoriadis' Tradition. --Omnipaedista (talk) 14:13, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Edit: There are some massive errors in the "quotes" section. Castoriadis never expressed any particular statement regarding anarchism and the anarchists. He only had one discussion with some anarchists on 1990. Where did you find that he did not appreciate anarchists? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:46, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
New-Left? By no means! Castoriadis' thought mostly refers to classicism rather to any post-modern doctrine. Indeed, he was very critical on post-modernism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:07, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

Mik: I still doubt even if Castoriadis would call himself as "libertarian socialist" He was probably attempting to revive the spirit of the Greek antiquity, the true meaning of politics as the ancient Greeks understood it (there is also a book published in Greek Η Ελληνική Ιδιατερότητα, The Greek Particularity - not sure how to translate it). Post-Marxism maybe is better but I would say better classify him in psychoanalysis, ancient Greece and maybe aesthetics? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:25, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Input needed to clarify Castoriades terms[edit]

It would be useful to clarify the philosophical terms that Castoriades uses in his work. The first two are written up to some extend but the rest need help. I have posted my understanding of the terms underneath.

  • Autonomy (explained)
  • Heteronomy (explained)
  • Magmas

Catoriadis believed that it is wrong to think the psyche simply gives meanings to already existing things (as in the case of projection), since this presupposes the existence of discrete objects/categories upon which meaning is to be assigned. This functionalist view becomes impossible when we think of words like 'God' where the signifier and the signified are created together through the imaginary. Instead, he believed that all of perceived existence comes from a unified psychic substratum which he called magma. This inner layer, although amorphous, was not entirely chaotic since it had a specific dynamic, that of creating a world for us to exist in as individuals.

  • Alienation

This is an old Marxist term which, as used by Marx, meant that capitalism, through the process of wage labour, creates a (material) distance between the worker and his work by lowering wages in relation to the real value of the product produced, with the rest becoming surplus. Since he is is paid a standard fee (which Marx argued is the lowest possible), there is no longer a connection between the effort and the result and thus alienation is created. The term is further analysed by Henri Lefebvre to mean a more general split between real life and the myths institutioned to give it a specific meaning (usually in the benefit of the ruling class). Castoriades, in his critique of Marxism, argues that the real alienation is between the classes when seen as oposite to each other. In his thinking, a factory needs to exist for a few minutes in the way Marx describes it, as pure oppression, in order to stop working. Both the proletariat worker and the capitalist owner are in fact connected through a common imaginary.

  • Ensemblist-Identitary Logic
  • The Socio-Historical
  • Praxis (Πράξις)

This is explained in "The Imaginary Institution of Society" book [1975]. Praxis means Action and Catoriades implies political action that can lead to an autonomous society. Refuting Marxistm for presenting a deterministic model of history, one where a complete knowledge of the present circumstance will lead to its mechanistic change as a matter of cause and effect, he argues that the only action possible is under a certain amount of uncertainty. The real action is that of acting on something (subject) in a certain way. So acting on other people as autonomous beings is the real revolutionary action

  • Technique

By that we can think science as well. He talks about a total deterministic knowledge of society as being impossible yet by isolating parts of the system we can apply a certain amount of technical knowledge to it. We cannot for example predict the stock market through economic science but we can predict the behaviour of a certain good for a small amount of time under certain circumstances, through some technical rules that we formulate.

  • Imaginary
  • Radical Imaginary

This is the root imaginary. It is the basic idea around which institutions acquire meaning. For example, the industrial revolution gave birth to an radical imaginary according to which human society can hope for eternal progress, as achieved through technology, with nearly all of man's activities described and controlled by science. Eventually this will lead to a utopian society where mankind will have achieved a kind of rational balance. Castoriadis believed that this imaginary did not change with the coming of communist ideas but merely changed expression and carrier. This is part of Castoriadis criticism towards Marxism, that it eventually becomes part of Capitalist ideology (or radical imaginary).

  • Originary Psychic Monad
  • Institution (explained)
  • Teukhein (Τεύχειν)
  • Legein (Λέγειν)

Mmick66 (talk) 08:58, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Notable Ideas[edit]

An IP editor has made a couple of edits to insert Imaginary and Creation in the Infobox as Castoriadis's notable ideas. I've reverted these, on the basis that both point to disambiguation pages on these pieces of commonplace language, and none of the items on the Dab pages relate to Castoriadis's concepts. So pointing the reader there serves no useful purpose whatsoever. If someone feels that Castoriadis's specific concepts merit a page, then they are of course free to write one and then link it from the Infobox. AllyD (talk) 19:28, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Infobox influenced list[edit]

This box is becoming riddled with red-link and no-link names, veering towards becoming some kind of "likes" feature on a social media site. Anyone object to the idea of pruning to a list of blue-link names and only then when there is a reliable 3rd party source attests to the influence? AllyD (talk) 21:12, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

All the red links 'are' persons for whom articles should be created. The subjects are notable and verifiable—in fact, most persons already have an article in the French or the German Wikipedia. The names that are not linked could be removed, though. As for why we should keep that list, see Talk:Gilles_Deleuze#too_negative; the "Influenced" infobox parameter basically serves the purpose of listing a philosopher's positive influence on scholars. --Omnipaedista (talk) 22:05, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

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