Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hannah Arendt and Cornelius Castoriadis

As many of us are currently remembering the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Hannah Arendt, it would be an occasion to discuss similarities and differences between her political philosophy and the phenomenologyof the World, and the thought of Castoriadis. I, for one, find it very enriching to read the two together and up against each other. Where one stops, the other continues and vice versa.

My - for now - superficial impression is that CC is the strongest on ontological issues whereas Arendt has more to say on the level of intersubjectivity and praxis, e.g. what does it mean to be one human being among other beings who are different - uniquely different. The latter point is sometimes vehemently contested by Castoriadis, who claims that if you are 1 % unique and "only" 99 % socialization, you are truly a genius (quoted from memory).

The problem with this is that Castoriadis, by focusing on the two levels, society and the psyche, and playing down notions of human multiplicity and individual differences, also diminishes the concept of political creativity which he promotes in so many other ways. In other words, his concept of social autonomy would be enriched if supplemented with a meso-level of human creativity which can be found in Arendt's thought on the conditions for a common World. Keywords are politics as creation.

Viewpoints, anyone?

Ingerid S. (who's a fan of both Arendt and Castoriadis)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Summer Session in Sweden

The Summer Session of NSU is something that can only be experienced - hardly described. The coming session will take place at Wiik Castle, south of Uppsala/north of Stockholm, July 22.-29. 2007 (Swedish-language info with photos here ). More than a hundred participants from eight study circles will be together for a whole week of academic work and - play; with families and without. (A few families were even said to have started here ... )
Keynote speakers: Hartmut Rosa, University of Jena/ The New School of Social Research New York, and Alenka Zupancic, Institute of philosophy, Ljubljana, Slovenia. This combination of critical sociology and psychoanalytical philosophy should be fertile ground for the first, Nordic crossdisciplinary session of Castoriadis studies.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Winter Symposium at Södertörn University College March 23.-25. 2007

The first Winter Symposium in the Nordic Castoriadis study circle will take place at Södertörn Högskola in Stockhom, Sweden, March 23.-25. 2007. More information on thematics/call for papers will follow.

The study circle is open for new participants of all ages and academic levels. Please forward this information and link up to the blog, write comments etc.!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Paideia quotes by Castoriadis?

I am currently investigating the notion of paideia - and associated concepts like education, areté etc. - in relation to Castoriadis's discussion of autonomy (cf. the three levels of autonomy that I suggested in an earlier post). So far, I have only found a couple of mentions of paideia in his work, however, these are seminal articles, and the notion of paideia is put forth as a "grand finale", a normative appeal and a practical key in those very texts. Would be very grateful if any of you know about, or stumble across, more texts where Castoriadis speaks about paideia or education. Post a comment if you do!

The most interesting texts on the topic that I've found so far are:

  • Democracy as Procedure and Democracy as Regime, where CC talks of a democratic paideia as one of the main objects of a society's political concerns, in order to produce a certain kind of individuals (citizens).
  • The text in defence of Vidal-Naquet, L'industrie du vide, in which he mentions some necessary democratic virtues.
  • The Greek Polis and the Creation of Democracy, where he talks of democratic paideia as participation in the political life,
  • and most importantly, the article Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (in The Castoriadis Reader) where he connects psychoanalysis, politics and pedagogics as three practices that all aim at the autonomy of one or several others.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

the autonomy and heteronomy problematic

the two central motifs in cc's thought are autonomy and (self) creation. although the one is not subsumed by the other, sometimes he seems to hesitate at their points of overlap. on the other hand, cc's distinction between autonomy and heteronomy is starkly drawn (although there are implicit points of that relativize their dichotomy within his own thought). there have been two historical, albeit partial, breakthroughs to autonomy: in ancient greece and with the onset of modernity. i for one do not think it's very helpful to consign the rest of world history to heteronomy, but neither would i want to collapse the distinction altogether. i think it could be important to look for - and recognize - more oblique and partial forms of autonomy within contexts that have conventionally been designated as 'heteronomous'. if 'partial breakthroughs' to autonomy can be recognized in the graeco-western trajectory, why not in other civilizational constellations as well? do we need to think autonomy more from an inter-cultural perspective?