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    Suzi Adams, Castoriadis's ontology. Being and creation

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 17048
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    castoriadis - Suzi Adams, Castoriadis's ontology. Being and creation Empty Suzi Adams, Castoriadis's ontology. Being and creation

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Mar 27 Déc - 13:33

    "Ontological creation was long held to be an extrahuman affair and occupied a central place in philosophical and theological discussions alike. In Western philosophical traditions, the civilizational constellations surrounding Athens and Jerusalem have provided dual cultural sources for its historical elaboration. It was the arrival of modernity, however, that first ushered in the social-historical horizons from which the ontological implications of human creation could be more fully grasped. What were the historical preconditions of this turn of events ? Hans Blumenberg (2001 [1957]) emphasizes the protracted breakdown of the idea of mimesis as the ‘‘imitation of nature,’’ especially in relation to ‘‘techne’’ as the historical precondition for the consideration of human creation as ontological. Interwoven with these innovations, although less discussed by Blumenberg, was the gradual institution of a subject-centered metaphysics—classically formulated by Descartes—and attendant versions of humanism. In a related vein, Ricoeur highlights the shift toward the modern conception of the imagination as productive, instead of the pre-modern view of the imagination as reproductive. He poses the question: ‘‘Are we not ready to recognise in the power of imagination, no longer the faculty of deriving ‘images’ from our sensory experience, but the capacity for letting new worlds shape our understanding of ourselves?’’ (1981: 181). Castoriadis’s ontology of creation is to be understood against this background. Although his elaboration of social-historical being is arguably drawn along philosophical-anthropological lines, its elucidation is made possible by the horizons of modernity through which the ontological significance of human creation can be thought at all. In the first instance, Castoriadis’s philosophical elucidation of the being of creation takes a radical view of the novelty and ontological importance of human creation, which he articulated in terms of absolute creation ex nihilo. Although the idea of ‘‘creatio ex nihilo’’ draws on a theologically rich tradition, Castoriadis’s ontology is directed against all forms of theological thinking. In his hands, creation ex nihilo is meant to characterize the specificity of human not divine creation. Indeed, the very notion of ‘‘divine’’ creation was antithetical to his project, as it implies ‘‘creation’’ from a basis external to anthropos. Castoriadis’s intellectual sources are found instead in ancient Greek images of anthropic being as self-creating, as well as in Romantic conceptions of the productive (or creative) imagination.

    Castoriadis’s philosophy of creation is intimately linked to his project of autonomy. As will become apparent, the connection between autonomy and creation is maintained not only with his first ontological turn in the early 1970s, in which he focused on the being of human creation, but also with his second ontological turn in the early 1980s, in which he reconsidered the creativity of nature in its various regions and modes. In his most systematic work, The Imaginary Institution of Society (1987 [1975]), Castoriadis embarks on an elaboration of the ontological pre-conditions of autonomy, but it metamorphoses along the way into an ontology of the social-historical. Integral to Castoriadis’s ontological turn of the 1970s is his link to the imaginary element of the human condition, and, in turn, the elaboration of the creative imagination as the basis of meaning. The imaginary element, as we shall see, points to a fundamental hermeneutical dimension in Castoriadis’s thought that was at odds with his more explicit, ontological program. This is especially evident in his approach to the phenomenological problematic of the world horizon, on the one hand, and social imaginary significations, on the other.

    Castoriadis’s philosophy can be situated within French phenomenological strands that take a hermeneutical or an ontological turn. The former highlights the importance of Ricoeur, the latter Merleau-Ponty. To claim a hermeneutical aspect to Castoriadis’s thought is something he himself repudiated: That his philosophy reveals an implicit hermeneutics, however, is a central contention of the present study.8 Merleau-Ponty must be considered a central intellectual source for the development of Castoriadis’s thought and merits particular reference. Although the influential connection between Merleau-Ponty and Lefort has been well documented, Merleau-Ponty’s bearing on Castoriadis’s philosophical trajectory has been less discussed. In this vein, however, Howard (1988) has noted the importance of Merleau-Ponty not just for Lefort, but also for Castoriadis and Socialisme ou barbarie in general. The early Castoriadis (and the Socialisme ou barbarie collective more broadly) worked within French phenomenological Marxism, and it continued as an important intellectual source for Castoriadis’s philosophical orientation. In the French context, Merleau-Ponty was significant for phenomenological Marxism and Adventures of the Dialectic was an influential text. Merleau-Ponty was also one of the first to introduce a Weberian element into his analysis ; Weber was of course also crucial to Lefort’s and Castoriadis’s analyses of capitalism and bureaucracy. Castoriadis’s thought underwent several alterations following Socialisme ou barbarie. Four are particularly important in the present context. First, Castoriadis’s critique of Marx is, among other things, an attempt to redefine the relationship between theory and history in order to open a space for the open-ended creativity of history, with a central focus on meaning. Second is his sustained encounter with psychoanalysis, which began in the late 1960s, although he first started to practice as a psychoanalyst in 1973. Third is the ontological turn of the 1975 section of the IIS where he looked to elucidate a regional ontology of the social-historical as a way of fleshing out the being of nomos. Finally, there was his reconfiguration of the nomos and physis problematic, which incorporated a second ontological shift to a transregional ontology of creative physis in the 1980s. Castoriadis’s earlier focus on the excavation of a regional ontology of nomos (as human modes of being, in particular, the social-historical) presumed that ontological creation of form was limited to human modes of being; concomitantly his image of being was one of irregular stratification. An understanding of being as incorporating a variety of regions points to the heterogeneity of being and to the heterogeneous logics of being. In his later work, albeit implicitly and unsystematically, Castoriadis began to elucidate a second image of being that, while still intrinsically heterogeneous, was characterized by self-creation in all of its regions, not just human regions. Hence, his image of the social-historical and the psyche as the only regions of being to be characterized by self-creation gave way to a deeper sense of the ‘‘transregionality’’ of being as creation. This overarching ‘‘logic’’ of creation that pervaded all regions of being, which was ultimately seen as transregional, came to be articulated as creative physis as à être, although, in order to make the new emphasis on the omnipresence of self-creation compatible with the older one on the heterogeneity of being, Castoriadis needed to provide extra clarification of the differences between modes of self-creation, for example, those between living beings and societies" (pp.1-3)

    "Castoriadis’s ‘‘political ontology’’—to use Howard’s
    term—has clear sources in Merleau-Ponty’s writings. More than that,
    however, his shift to ontology proper (that is, with the publication of the
    IIS in 1975) emerged from a sustained encounter with Merleau-Ponty’s
    own ontological reconfiguration of phenomenology. Unlike MerleauPonty, however, Castoriadis came to ontology through a reconsideration
    of human, that is, social-historical creation; it was only later that a rethinking of the ontological creativity of nature became visible in his philosophical reflections. Castoriadis wrote two important meditations on
    Merleau-Ponty’s thought. Significantly, each of Castoriadis’s encounters
    with Merleau-Ponty occurred on the eve of—and in close connection
    with—major ontological breakthroughs in his own thought. The first
    essay reflecting Castoriadis’s encounter with Merleau-Ponty was ‘‘The
    Sayable and the Unsayable: Homage to Merleau-Ponty’’ (1971).15 Castoriadis wrote it on the cusp of his first shift to ontology and the elucidation
    of the being of the social-historical in the IIS. Themes encountered in
    this paper prefigured what were to become central problematics—society,
    history, imagination, meaning, creation, and institution—for his overall
    philosophical trajectory. These problematics constitute the main focus in
    the first section of the present study.16 Castoriadis’s second meditation on
    Merleau-Ponty’s thought—‘‘Merleau-Ponty and the Weight of the Ontological Tradition’’—was written after completion of the IIS.
    17 This essay
    emphasized the centrality of the imagination and radical creation as anthropic modes of being, which in Castoriadis’s view, went unrecognized
    by traditional philosophy as its overall tendency was to reduce an understanding of ‘‘being’’ to ‘‘determinacy’’ that obscured the creative mode of
    the social-historical.18 For Castoriadis, ultimately Merleau-Ponty remained held back by the inherited ontological tradition; this meant that
    openings toward the radical creativity of the imaginary in MerleauPonty’s philosophy were left unrealized. In the same paper, however, we
    find Castoriadis’s earliest indication of a shift toward rethinking the creativity of nature—termed a ‘‘hyper physis’’ in that paper—and the consequent move toward a general ontology of creative emergence as a`-eˆtre
    (understood as an ‘‘always-becoming-being’’).19 Consideration of the
    being of creation as it plays out in nature, that is, beyond the anthropic
    limits of the social-historical (and the psyche) originally imposed by Castoriadis in the IIS, comprises the focus of the second half of this study.
    Like Merleau-Ponty, Castoriadis’s philosophy cannot be properly understood without reference to Heidegger.20 In contrast to the second-generation phenomenologists, however, Castoriadis’s critical dialogue with Heidegger is more implicit and ancillary to his central philosophical concerns. That being said, and Castoriadis’s own protestations to the contrary
    notwithstanding, Castoriadis’s rethinking of the connections between
    ‘‘being,’’ ‘‘time,’’ and ‘‘creation’’ draws in a general way on Heidegger’s
    early thought.21 In particular, he formulated his own most seminal and
    consistent insights, especially concerning the ontological importance of
    the imagination, as well as the central importance of the temporality of
    being, through a radicalization of Heidegger’s thought. Castoriadis’s engagement with Heidegger tends to focus more on Heidegger’s pre-Kehre
    period, especially on the Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics as the
    mooted sequel to Being and Time.22 Heidegger’s argument that Kant’s
    Critique of Pure Reason provides us with not only an epistemology but an
    ontology, and his discussion of the transcendental imagination as Kant’s
    key but neglected element, also affords Castoriadis with a starting point
    for rethinking the temporality of the social-historical.23 Conversely, although Castoriadis, too, radicalizes our understanding of the temporal
    mode of being, he does not take it in the direction of a phenomenology
    or fundamental ontology. Instead, he elucidates an ontology of the socialhistorical as an ontology of human creation and as the region of being
    that has been occluded by the inherited philosophical tradition. Although
    Castoriadis and Heidegger both criticize a whole tradition of occidental
    philosophy, Castoriadis does not accuse it so much of a forgetting of Being,
    but of a reduction of being to determinacy.
    Castoriadis’s reworking of phenomenology can be situated as part of a
    broader move toward ‘‘post-transcendental phenomenology.’’ This is a
    trend also apparent in Lefort and Merleau-Ponty’s writings, as well as in
    Levinas and Patocˇka’s. Post-transcendental phenomenology—a term first
    coined by Johann P. Arnason—forms part of a broader cultural turn in
    the social and human sciences that has been evident in the latter decades
    of the twentieth century.24 It constitutes a heterogeneous field, and emphasizes the ways in which phenomenology has transformed itself from a
    subjective and intersubjective philosophy to one that interrogates transsubjective (and transobjective) horizons. It thus continues the critique of
    the philosophy of consciousness that led to Husserl’s elaboration of the
    lifeworld in his later work, and broadens its ongoing reconstruction. In
    moving beyond a subject-oriented (or intersubjective) analysis, post-transcendental phenomenology highlights the importance of (socio-)cultural
    analysis, and of culture as the articulation of the human encounter with
    the broader world horizon. In this vein, the problematic of the world becomes central, and is regarded as a transsubjective (and transobjective)
    horizon. So considered, the cultural dimension of analysis, especially as it pertains to the emergence of meaning formations, is the most important.25
    In this sense, a focus on the transsubjective, or cultural context, goes beyond a focus on the subject or intersubjective, since cultural constellations
    of meaning provide the infrastructure within which the embodied subject-self can navigate and participate in intersubjective relations.26 The
    transsubjective level of analysis corresponds more or less, in Castoriadian
    terms, to the ‘‘ anonymous collective’’ of the ‘‘social-historical,’’ or, to
    draw on another tradition, and from a slightly different angle, the ‘‘objective Spirit.’’ Post-transcendental phenomenology seeks to elucidate concrete cultural interpretations of the world horizon—as well as their
    philosophical preconditions—from interdisciplinary perspectives of sociology, politics, philosophy, history, and anthropology.27
    In response to the twentieth-century phenomenological and hermeneutic challenge of ‘‘the meaning of meaning,’’28 the problematic of culture as the inescapable symbolic context of social-historical being was
    rethought from diverse angles.29 Culture was conceived variously as the
    realm of freedom—or creativity—in contrast to civilization, or anthropologically as a constitutive symbolic order, or, finally and most pertinently
    for our current purposes, as the ongoing confrontation between anthropos
    and world. In this respect, Castoriadis’s (and Merleau-Ponty’s) approach
    to the problematic of anthropos and world is unusual in that they rethink
    the natural as well as the sociocultural world and their interrelations. Finally, post-transcendental currents of phenomenology tend to incorporate
    a hermeneutical dimension and openness to the cultural—or transsubjective—level of investigation. Part of this has seen the partial shift from a
    focus on ‘‘faculties of the subject’’ to ‘‘cultural configurations,’’ such as
    the move from ‘‘the imagination’’ to ‘‘the imaginary’’ (or ‘‘cultural imagination’’ as per Ricoeur (1976), or ‘‘the social imaginary’’ as per Castoriadis),30 from ‘‘reason’’ to forms of ‘‘rationality’’ (Arnason 1994), and most
    recently toward an interest in ‘‘cultural memory’’ (Assmann 1992).
    The problematic of culture has also been central to recent social theoretical concerns and Castoriadis’s emphasis on the creative imagination
    adds a distinctive twist to such interpretations. The French phenomenological tradition—the French philosophical tradition, more broadly—has
    historically pursued conversation with social theoretical currents, where
    ‘‘social theory’’ is understood to incorporate not only sociological but also
    political, philosophical, and anthropological aspects. The case of Durkheim is particularly instructive. Long hailed by sociologists for his early
    work, it was his later work (often coauthored with Marcel Mauss), especially The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1995 [1912]), in which he
    made his well-known ‘‘anthropological turn’’ that was important for French debates.31 More recently, Durkheim’s later thought has become
    an important source for the cultural turn in sociology (Alexander and
    Smith 2005). Castoriadis, too, drew in central ways on Durkheim’s
    thought and, as with Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1982), it can be
    situated within post-Durkheimian currents. If Durkheim’s interest in the
    anthropological aspects of society were important for Castoriadis, so, too,
    was Weber’s more historical approach, and the connection between history and meaning. Indeed, one of his earliest essays discussed Weber and
    the social sciences (1944).32 The tensions that emerge from his anthropological elucidation of the social-historical and the anthropological versus
    the historical figurations of the creative imagination are never quite exorcised but remain fruitful to his overall trajectory.33 Weber’s thought, too,
    has recently undergone a renaissance with more interest being shown in
    the cultural aspects of his thought. An important thinker here is Johann
    P. Arnason, who fused Weber’s early theory of culture as the ‘‘relations
    between man and world’’ (1982) and Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of
    mise en forme du monde, which Arnason further refined through a reconstruction of Castoriadis’s notion of social imaginary significations.34
    Ever since Husserl’s articulation of the lifeworld, the world horizon has
    taken on increasing importance for succeeding generations of phenomenologists; in this regard, Merleau-Ponty and Patocˇka’s respective reconfigurations and radicalization of Husserlian and Heideggerian themes are
    the most striking. The post-transcendental phenomenological context
    points to the signification of the world as our ultimate horizon in need of
    perpetual interpretation. The double sense of Merleau-Ponty’s mise en
    forme du monde—as world articulation or world forming—is pertinent:
    The world becomes the horizon where the ‘‘true transcendental’’
    (Merleau-Ponty) of nature and culture entwine. An emphasis on (inter)-
    cultural articulations of the broader world horizon implies a hermeneutical dimension to our ontological condition in the world. To paraphrase
    Merleau-Ponty: Because we are in the world, we are condemned not only
    to meaning, but also to interpretation. The human encounter with the
    world, then, results in its cultural articulation. This perspective regards
    the human condition not only as self-interpreting (Taylor) but also worldinterpreting (this aspect has been most explicitly elaborated by Arnason):
    Such an approach thus offers a critique of sociocentric images of culture
    common to the humanist imaginary.
    As mentioned, the horizons of modernity form the backdrop to reflections on the ontological import of human creation, and, more broadly,
    extrahuman modes of creation. As such, a cultural hermeneutics of modernity is needed, both in general, and, more pertinently for our current purposes, to situate Castoriadis’s philosophy more concretely. ‘‘Ways of
    worldmaking,’’ to draw on a well-known motif from Nelson Goodman,
    are historically diverse.35 In modernity, the world is no longer a takenfor-granted horizon but is inherently problematic and problematizable.
    Following Arnason, modernity is regarded as a ‘‘field of tensions’’ (1988),
    in which the (partially structured) conflict of interpretations play out. In
    this way, interpretative frameworks are required to make sense of rival
    approaches to the various configurations of meaning constellations that
    structure this field of tensions (Arnason 1988, 1989a, 1991, 1994).36
    Rather than seeing Romanticism as a conservative reaction to the modernity of the Enlightenment, or the Enlightenment as the sole bearer of the
    project and promise of modernity, Romanticism and the Enlightenment
    are better regarded as general cultural currents that structure modernity’s
    field of tensions and offer rival images of the world and worldhood. ‘‘Enlightenment’’ and ‘‘Romanticism,’’ then, are neither reduced to historical
    periods, nor to intellectual movements, but are envisaged as cultural currents indicative of particular configurations of meaning constellations and
    transsubjective contexts. In this vein, the Enlightenment is broadly understood as emphasizing rationality and explanation, while the imaginary and
    the ongoing quest to reactivate contexts of meaning are seen as characteristic of Romanticism.37
    Within this context, philosophy as a civilizational form makes a significant contribution to the shape and direction of broader cultural currents. Kant’s critical philosophy constitutes a watershed moment in
    Western thought, and is pivotal for the elaboration of a hermeneutic of
    modernity: Not only does it articulate the most sophisticated version of
    Enlightenment thought, it opens onto incipient Romantic contexts, too.
    One of the first to recognize this was Herman August Korff, who, in a
    decisive essay ‘‘Das Wesen der Romantik’’ (1929), identifies not only the
    imagination as the chief characteristic of Romanticism, but also Kant’s
    thought as a bridge between Enlightenment and Romantic currents.
    These can be considered along two axes: First, there is the identification
    and problematization of the role and scope of the imagination in the first Critique ; and, second, there are the implications of its mutations from the first to the second editions. Kant is a central figure for Castoriadis’s thought, both in terms of the philosophy of the three Critiques and the dialogue and tension between Enlightenment and Romantic thematic. Like Kant, Castoriadis builds bridges between Enlightenment and Romantic worldviews. In the first instance, Castoriadis makes the occluded theme of the imagination central to his philosophy—especially to his theory of meaning—and elucidates its implications both at the psychical and social-historical levels. Kant’s recognition of—and recoil from—the role of the imagination as the basis of reason in the two different editions of the first Critique is a key site of interrogation for Castoriadis. He takes up the ontological role of the imagination as the ground of reason, which was neglected by Kant, and links it to his theory of the creative imagination within his broader theory of meaning. From his earliest phase, Castoriadis took up the Weberian theme that meaning is the elementary medium of social life. Castoriadis’s point, however, is that the role of meaning in social life cannot be understood unless the imagination is brought in. In this way, there is a dual Romantic motif: the imagination and meaning. For Castoriadis the reappraisal of the creative imagination was the way to restore contexts of meaning (and by linking it directly to meaning, to radicalize theories of meaning), especially as the reactivation of a milieu of meaningful contexts that had been emptied by broad Enlightenment trends constitutes a significant part of the Romantic critique of the Enlightenment. At the level of an elaboration of modernity, the Enlightenment as an intellectual source is most obvious in Castoriadis’s emphasis on autonomy and self-reflection ; at the philosophical level it is evident not only in his unwillingness to reject rationality, but also in his refusal to envelop human modes of being within a cosmic whole. The project of autonomy in its dual aspects of a strong and explicit politics (la politique) and philosophy (la philosophie) remains fundamental throughout Castoriadis’s philosophical trajectory. Of most relevance to the present study is Castoriadis’s notion of philosophical autonomy, which imagines the world both as an interpretative creation of human nomos, and as an inescapable context to be encountered.

    To properly consider both Kant and Castoriadis as respectively connecting Romantic and Enlightenment cultural currents, the inclusion not just of Kant’s two editions of the first Critique, but also the third Critique—where aesthetics and nature are central foci, and, as such, Romantic problematics are first introduced—is needed. In considering the aesthetic aspect, there is good reason to see in Kant’s idea of the creative genius an important source for Castoriadis’s idea of the creativity of the social-historical in general. Although Castoriadis moves the idea of creation to the institutional level (the creation of Athenian democracy or the creation of monotheism, for example), there is nonetheless a tendency to see in aesthetic creations (and aesthetic creations of the ‘‘genius artist’’) the perfection of the human capacity to create new forms, and create them ex nihilo. Second, Kant’s third Critique was a vital text for the early Romantics: It emphasizes not only the autonomy of the aesthetic sphere and the paradigm of the genius as creator, but also incipient articulations of the creativity of nature. In this way, Kant, too, can be incorporated within the intermittent modern tradition of natura naturans/natura naturata (although he himself does not use the term), which was reinvigorated in early modernity by Spinoza and deepened further by Schelling. In the Critique of Judgment, Kant recognizes the inadequacy of the scientific framework of the first Critique to grasp the living being; hence the teleology of nature in the third Critique. Although Kant did not—and could not within the constraints of his critical philosophy—grant the protocreativity of nature the ontological status that Castoriadis does. Castoriadis’s later shift toward creative physis can be seen as a critical reactivation of naturphilosophical themes. A critical naturphilosophical agenda can be interpreted in Whiteheadian terms, in that it imagines alternative visions to the various interlacements of science and nature via a rethinking of ontological premises, and thus links up with philosophical aspects of the project of autonomy. Castoriadis’s later conception of physis radicalizes the classic Aristotelian formulation of internal qualitative movement and change (alloiosis) to creative emergence, interpreted through a critical reconsideration of the Romantic idea of nature and the intermittent tradition of natura naturans/natura naturata. A fusion of key Aristotelian and Kantian motifs is thus to be regarded as a central aspect of Castoriadis’s philosophy." (pp.3-10)

    "Castoriadis's reconfiguration of the nomos / physis problematic -indicated by his shift toward an ontology of transregional physis- is neither fully systematic nor fully realized." (p.12)

    "Castoriadis critiques the reduction of time to a spatial dimension in physics and argues that an overarching interpretation of time as radical physis is needed to make sens of subjective (as the social-historical) and objective approaches to time." (p.15)
    -Suzi Adams, Castoriadis's ontology. Being and creation, New York, Fordham University Press, 2011, 300 pages.

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. » -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. » -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

    « Mais parfois le plus clair regard aime aussi l’ombre. » -Friedrich Hölderlin, "Pain et Vin".

      La date/heure actuelle est Jeu 21 Sep - 12:06