Session 1: Castoriadis in Context

A propos of The "Early" and "Late" Work of Cornelius Castoriadis: A Critical-Integrative Approach.
D. A. Curtis, Paris

The distinction between an "early" and a "late" period writings has a history, both in print (at least since a two-part series of articles written two decades ago by Brian Singer) and in reality (such a distinction is not entirely foreign to Castoriadis's own political-intellectual itinerary, but it requires elucidation and needs to be placed in proper perspective). Using examples culled from the extensive ten-language bibliography of writings about him available on the Cornelius Castoriadis/Agora International Website <> as well as bringing out the "magmatic" character of his ?uvre, I offer some reflections on the reception, appreciation, and use of Castoriadis's ideas that, while sometimes suggesting disagreements, tries to avoid being disagreeable, and instead proposes a critical-integrative approach. The dangers of separation and isolation that present themselves when working exclusively on different "periods" or themes in his thought are scrutinized, and the opportunities for dialogic exchange and "interdisciplinary" study are emphasized, so that this work may retain a relevance for a broad range of interests and problems once one has learned to recognize and appreciate the multiple cross-disciplinary and transtemporal "referrals" actually contained in this magmatic ensemble.


Cornelius Castoriadis - Kostas Papaioannou: Common Starting Point - Different Directions.
N. Sergis, University of Ioannina, Greece

The birth and development of greek-french thought after the Second World War is a subject not sufficiently studied. We call greek-french thought the fertile meeting between greek and french philosophic tradition in the city of Paris, starting from 1945. In that time, a big group of young greek intellectuals moves in the French capital, to be assimilated and produce new forms of thinking, there. C. Castoriadis and K. Papaioannou are two characteristic representatives of what we call greek-french thought.

In the starting point of their study, the two philosophers have a lot of affinities. Some of them are: the common interest for the content of ancient democracy, the hegelian-marxist questions and the discussion of the route to socialism. The study of Marx and Hegel comes into the french intellectual "enviroment", where the philosophy of existentialism and other ethnological or epistemological currents dominate. The two greek philosophers, together with other french colleagues, form the important current of critical marxism in the decades of '50 and '60. In this period we can find similarities between the works of Kastoriades-Papaioannou, in the subjects, the demands and the method of the philosophical approach. The historical study of the relationship between them becomes difficult because there was no cooperation. Yet, their offer to the greek-french thought -and especially to the critical marxism- is important.

Their ways of thinking are paraller in the study of the "foundations of marxism" and in the critic of its historical realization. Reaching the fundamental subject of the consciousness and action of political human being, their ways of thinking follow different directions -although the purpose of socialism remains common. Papaioannou chooses the way that "returns to Hegel" and ancient humanism. His aim is the saving of spirit from nihilism and the saving of political man from the passivity of totalitarism. Castoriadis chooses psychoanalysis and sociology, trying to find a solution to the problem of the consciounsness and action of political human being. In the second period of his work, he invents the terms of "social-historic institution" and "social imaginaire", in order to save the purpose of self-instituting society to socialism. His intervention to the discussion of modern problems in the decade of 1970 is also interesting because it is a "bridge" between critical marxism and modern theories.

For history of philosophy, the subject of the birth and development of greek-french thought remains interesting. Papaioannou died young and his work is not enough known, so his offer to the study of modern problems needs more investigation. Castoriadis - Papaioannou set a number of questions in the decade of '50, which still influence modern thinking. The political events of 1989 in Russia add new important elements to the origin and the future of social transformation and socialism. A systematical and total study of the development of greek-french thought to modern theories must examine the work of Castoriadis-Papaioannou. Their questions about social transformation and socialism are still in use. "The value of a theory is not so much in the problems that solves, but in the forms of reality that enlightens".


On the Aporias of Time and History: Castoriadis and Heidegger.
A. Mouzakitis, University of Warwick, U.K.

The paper is an attempt to discuss the issues resulting from Castoriadis' and Heidegger's meditations on history and their overall attempt to break with the philosophical tradition. Castoriadis' understanding of historical praxis as the enactment of autonomy via the emergence of the radically new, is here examined over against Heidegger's treatment of authentic historicity as fate and repetition.

Despite the existence of a certain incomensurability between the socially-historically oriented philosophy of Castoriadis and Heidegger's modification of the ontological question, certain points of convergence are higlighted, always with regard to the issues mentioned above.


Bauman and Castoriadis - An Exchange of Sympathies.
P. Beilharz, La Trobe University, Austarlia

The working thesis is that the two projects are sympathetic because they each espouse autonomy , but with differing frames , classical and psychoanalytical in Castoriadis, modern and sociological in Bauman, so that the emphases are complementary in ways that are both striking and fruitful