|Session 6: Politics and Democracy
and Politics - Plato and Castoriadis
Y. Oikonomou, Athens
In his last book Sur le Politique de Platon, Castoriadis analyses The Statesman of
Plato in order to show the role that Platonic philosophy has played in the political
concepts of the ancient world and its successors. Castoriadis holds the view that Plato
concealed many political ideas of the ancient Greek world, and that for historical and
ideological reasons these Platonic ideas predominated, thus giving rise to a different
picture of Greek ideas, which in the main still holds today. These ideas, distorted by
The rational view for the evolution of mankind as it exists in Democritus has been
replaced by an ahistorical view in which mankind is the recipient of God's bounty.
The concept of politics, which after the Greek view is not science, is identified
precisely by Plato with "science".
The statesman is identified with the king, an unacceptable concept for the Greeks of
The rule of law, a fundamental Greek belief, has been sharply criticised by Plato.But
the main idea that Plato tried to demolish was the democratic idea of the people's
capacity for self-government, that is, the essence of democracy.
From this analysis and criticism made by Castoriadis also ensues his own view of
politics and democracy, which is inspired by ancient Greek democracy and is the antithesis
of Plato's. His peoccupation is not the statesman but politics in the sense of the
explicit collective action concerning the global radical institution of society. His view
is complemented by his other works.
Law Making And Law Makers in Athens.
(With reference to the verses 368-370 in Sophocles' Antigone)
C. Spantidakis, Athens
In the middle of the 5th century in Greece and particularly in Athens the law, in its
everyday practice at least but as well as in its theoretical content, had lost its divine
character. The law, provided initially by Zeus or by legislators who were inspired by Zeus
himself or by other gods, constituted in democratic Athens one of the most tangible and
important expressions of the polis regime.
In his famous stasimon in Antigone, verse 332 sq., a hymn to the human potential and to
the human self-creativity, Sophocles points out that the man who interweaves
(παρείρει) the laws of the city with the divine retribution is ?ψίπολις as
he gains distinction by his city and at the same time he attributes distinction to it.
Given the situation of the law during that age, an age of tense creativity in all the
fields, and of Sophocles' position into it, it is examined in the context of stasimon,
where the man is praised as more "terrible" than gods themselves, whether the
traditional and ordinary interpretation of the verses referring to the conflict of two
poles, of the divine and human law, of the natural and positive law, of the family and the
State etc, is completely justified.
When Sophocles refers to θεών ένορκον δίκαν he speaks by using the
significations, the representations and the language of the era about that element which
transcends the occasionally established institutions, the positive law and, on the whole,
the determinations of the instituted society. He speaks about something that Castoriadis
calls the anexhaustiveness of society in anything which is occasionally instituted, about
the distance between social imaginary or instituting society and instituted society. The
essential παρείρειν consists the link of the law to an element which can surpass
the former and has in general to do with being as to-be, as the permanent creation of
world from chaos, a chaos which is at the same time a forming ability, vis formandi, an
ability which can provide the appropriate Stimmung to the positive institutions and can
modify them recreatively.
Ancient Citizen and Modern Subject: Classical Problems in New Mythologies.
K. Simopoulos, Athens
- Revolution, innovation, imagination and tradition.
- The Machiavellian reactivation of ancient citizen.
- The theoretical exploitation of the concept of ancient citize Lock's Treatises on
- German Idealism and especially Fichte's theory of Pure (completely autonomous) Ego and
the modern commercial State as an aesthetic-moral reactivation of ancient Polis.
- The adaptation and reformulation of Fichte's theory by Kastoriadis. Radicalization of
Fichte's productive imagination and it's transformation to pure creative imagination.
- Latent theological presuppositions for the legalization of the modern historical
subject. Aesthetical ideals as substitution of rational normative rules.
- The psychoanalytical bent, man and nature.
- The antinomical character of modernity. Individual and society, the unresolved tense.
- The endurance of the ancient citizen's figure as revolutionary armed citizen and
- The classical question of power and justice, the modern problem of productivity and
distribution and the great difficulties of their resolution by theories of modernity.