cornelius castoriadis

intro’d to Cornelius while looking into Giorgios:

from his wikipedia page: A core distinction he makes is between self-limitation, an idea he gets from Cornelius Castoriadis, and which refers to limits that we desire and we want to put upon ourselves in order to live a meaningful life, and limits as a natural–and undesirable–property of the environment or of our bodies, that impose on us scarcity. Kallis discards the notion of limits as scarcity, and makes a case for self-limitation–individual and collective–as freedom.

self-talk as data to undo our hierarchical listening

getting us back/to garden enough ness

comment on michel’s fb share saying .. ‘this is why doughnut econ flawed’.. (trying to get to enough ness via ‘environ that impose scarcity’ keeps us from the natural dance.. of 8b alive people.. with inborn/natural limits of enough ness)


Cornelius Castoriadis (Greek: Κορνήλιος Καστοριάδης; 11 March 1922 – 26 December 1997) was a Greek-French philosopher, social critic, economist, psychoanalyst, author of The Imaginary Institution of Society, and co-founder of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group.

sounds like whales in sea world ness

His writings on autonomy and social institutions have been influential in both academic and activist circles

In the late 1940s, he started attending philosophical and sociological courses at the Faculty of Letters at the University of Paris (faculté des lettres de Paris), where among his teachers were Gaston Bachelard

bachelard oikos law

In his 1975 work, L’Institution imaginaire de la société (Imaginary Institution of Society), and in Les carrefours du labyrinthe (Crossroads in the Labyrinth), published in 1978, Castoriadis began to develop his distinctive understanding of historical change as the emergence of irrecoverable otherness that must always be socially instituted and named in order to be recognized. Otherness emerges in part from the activity of the psyche itself. Creating external social institutions that give stable form to what Castoriadis terms the (ontological) “magma of social significations” allows the psyche to create stable figures for the self, and to ignore the constant emergence of mental indeterminacy and alterity (otherness – outside of tradition).

For Castoriadis, self-examination, as in the ancient Greek tradition, could draw upon the resources of modern psychoanalysis. Autonomous individuals—the essence of an autonomous society—must continuously examine themselves and engage in critical reflection. He writes: ‘… psychoanalysis can and should make a basic contribution to a politics of autonomy. For, each person’s self-understanding is a necessary condition for autonomy. One cannot have an autonomous society that would fail to turn back upon itself, that would not interrogate itself about its motives, its reasons for acting, its deep-seated [profondes] tendencies. Considered in concrete terms, however, society doesn’t exist outside the individuals making it up. The self-reflective activity of an autonomous society depends essentially upon the self-reflective activity of the humans who form that society.’

self-talk as data et al

Castoriadis was not calling for every individual to undergo psychoanalysis, per se. Rather, by reforming education and political systems, individuals would be increasingly capable of critical self- and social reflexion.

ie: cure ios city

He offers: “if psychoanalytic practice has a political meaning, it is solely to the extent that it tries, as far as it possibly can, to render the individual autonomous, that is to say, lucid concerning her desire and concerning reality, and responsible for her acts: holding herself accountable for what she does.

less about accountable ness.. more about getting to fittingness et al

Edgar Morin proposed that Castoriadis’ work will be remembered for its remarkable continuity and coherence as well as for its extraordinary breadth which was “encyclopaedic” in the original Greek sense, for it offered us a paideia, or education, that brought full circle our cycle of otherwise compartmentalized knowledge in the arts and sciences. Castoriadis wrote essays on mathematics, physics, biology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, linguistics, society, economics, politics, philosophy, and art.

One of Castoriadis’ 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 strict determinations, but in order to be socially recognized it must be instituted as revolution. Any knowledge of society and social change can exist only by referring to (or by positing) social imaginary significations

revolution: instigating utopia everyday.. ness

The concept of autonomy was central to his early writings, and he continued to elaborate on its meaning, applications, and limits until his death, gaining him the title of “Philosopher of Autonomy.” The word itself is Greek, where auto means “for/by itself” and nomos means “law.”

itch-in-the-soul ness.. already on each heart ness

It refers to the condition of “self-institution” by which one creates their own laws, whether as an individual or as a whole society. And while every society creates their own institutions, only the members of autonomous societies are fully aware of the fact, and consider themselves to be the ultimate source of justice. 

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

In contrast, members of heteronomous societies (hetero– ‘other’) delegate this process to an authority outside of society, often attributing the source of their traditions to divine origins or, in modern times, to “historical necessity.” Castoriadis then identified the need of societies not only to create but to legitimize their laws, to explain, in other words, why their laws are just. Most traditional societies did that through religion, claiming their laws were given by God or a mythical ancestor and therefore must be true

inspectors of inspectors ness

Because these meanings (manifestations of the “radical imaginary” in Castoriadian terminology) do not point to anything concrete, and because the logical categories needed to analyze them are derived from them, these meanings cannot be analysed rationally. They are arational – [outside of reason] (rather than irrational – [goes against reason]), and must therefore be acknowledged rather than comprehended in the common use of the term.

In his seminal work The Imaginary Institution of Society, Castoriadis argues that societies are founded not as products of historical necessity, but as the result of a new and radical idea of the world, an idea that appears to spring fully formed and is practically irreducible.

history/research et al.. red flags.. of whales in sea world

All cultural forms (laws and institutions, aesthetics and ritual) follow from this radical imaginary, and are not to be explained merely as products of material conditions. Castoriadis then is offering an “ontogenetic”, or “emergentist” model of history, one that is apparently unpopular amongst modern historians, but can serve as a valuable critique of historical materialism – [history result of materialism rather than ideals]. For example, Castoriadis believed that Ancient Greeks had an imaginary by which the world stems from Chaos, while in contrast, the Hebrews had an imaginary by which the world stems from the will of a rational entity, God or Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible. The former developed therefore a system of direct democracy where the laws were ever changing according to the people’s will while the second a theocratic system according to which man is in an eternal quest to understand and enforce the will of God.

Similarly, in the issue of ecology he observes that the problems facing our environment are only present within the capitalist imaginary that values the continuous expansion of industries. Trying to solve it by changing or managing these industries better might fail, since it essentially acknowledges this imaginary as real, thus perpetuating the problem.

huge ..

and back to doughnut econ not focus ing on center of problem.. to perpetuating it

Castoriadis also believed that the complex historical processes through which new imaginaries are born are not directly quantifiable by science. This is because it is through the imaginaries themselves that the categories upon which science is applied are created.

Castoriadis was a social constructionist and a moral relativist insofar as he held that the radical imaginary of each society was opaque to rational analysis. Since he believed that social norms and morals ultimately derive from a society’s unique idea of the world, which emerges fully formed at a given moment in history and cannot be reduced further. From this he concluded that any criteria by which one could evaluate these morals objectively are also derived from the said imaginary, rendering this evaluation subjective. This does not mean that Castoriadis stopped believing in the value of social struggles for a better world, he simply thought that rationally proving their value is impossible.

graeber values law

This however does not mean that Castoriadis believed there is no truth, but that truth is linked to the imaginary which is ultimately arational. In his book World in Fragments, which includes essays on science, he explicitly writes that “We have to understand that there is truth – and that it is to be made/to be done, that to attain [atteindre] it we have to create it, which means, first and foremost, to imagine it”. He then quotes Blake who said “What is now proved was once only imagin’d”.

The concept of Chaos, as found in Ancient Greek cosmogony, plays a significant role in Castoriadis’ work, and is connected to the idea of the “imaginary”. Castoriadis translates the Greek word “chaos” as nothingness. According to him, the core of the Greek imaginary was a world that came from Chaos rather than the will of God as described in Genesis. Castoriadis concludes that the Greeks’ imaginary of a “world out of chaos” was what allowed them to create institutions such as democracy, because— if the world is created out of nothing— man can model it as he sees fit, without trying to conform to some divine law.

but democracy ness.. (which we seem to be stuck in as an ideal) is perpetuating the confirmation/consensus to a law/killer-supposed-to’s et al

He contrasted the Greek imaginary to the Biblical imaginary in which God is a “willing” (i.e. intentional) agent and man’s position is to understand God’s will and act according to it.

yeah.. i don’t think that’s legit.. the choice of garden enough et al..

He sees a tension in the modern West between, on the one hand, the potentials for autonomy and creativity and the proliferation of “open societies” and, on the other hand, the spirit-crushing force of capitalism. These are respectively characterized as the creative imaginary and the capitalist imaginary:

‘I think that we are at a crossing in the roads of history, history in the grand sense. One road already appears clearly laid out, at least in its general orientation. That’s the road of the loss of meaning, of the repetition of empty forms, of conformism, apathy, irresponsibility, and cynicism at the same time as it is that of the tightening grip of the capitalist imaginary of unlimited expansion of “rational mastery,” pseudorational pseudomastery, of an unlimited expansion of consumption for the sake of consumption, that is to say, for nothing, and of a technoscience that has become autonomized along its path and that is evidently involved in the domination of this capitalist imaginary.

The other road should be opened: it is not at all laid out. It can be opened only through a social and political awakening, a resurgence of the project of individual and collective autonomy, that is to say, of the will to freedom. This would require an awakening of the imagination and of the creative imaginary’

yeah.. let’s go there..

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..

what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people