Cornelius Castoriadis

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Cornelius Castoriadis in 1990.

Cornelius Castoriadis (March 11, 1922 – December 26, 1997) was a Greek-French philosopher.


  • Either history is really governed by laws, and in that case a truly human-activity is impossible, except perhaps in a technical sense; or human beings really make their own history, and then the task of theory will not be directed to discovering 'laws', but to the elucidation of the conditions with in which human activity unfolds.

The Imaginary Institution of Society (1975)[edit]

Original: L'Institution imaginaire de la société, Seuil, 1975; quotations are taken from the translation by Kathleen Blamey (The Imaginary Institution of Society, MIT Press, Cambridge 1997 [1987]. ISBN 0-262-53155-0.
  • Reification, the essential tendency of capitalism, can never be wholly realized. If it were, if the system were actually able to change individuals into things moved only by economic “forces,” it would collapse not in the long run, but immediately. The struggle of people against reification is, just as much as the tendency towards reification, the condition for the functioning of capitalism. Capitalism can function only by continually drawing upon the genuinely human activity of those subject to it, while at the same time trying to level and dehumanize them as much as possible.
    • p. 16.
  • Je désire pouvoir, avec tous les autres, savoir ce qui se passe dans la société, contrôler l’étendue et la qualité de l’information qui m’est donnée. Je demande de pouvoir participer directement à toutes les décisions sociales qui peuvent affecter mon existence, ou le cours général du monde où je vis. Je n’accepte pas que mon sort soit décidé, jour après jour, par des gens dont les projets me sont hostiles ou simplement inconnus, et pour qui nous sommes, moi et tous les autres, que des chiffres, dans un plan ou des pions sur un échiquier et qu’à la limite, ma vie et ma mort soient entre les mains de gens dont je sais qu’ils sont nécessairement aveugles.
    • I ask to be able to participate directly in all the social decisions that may affect my existence, or the general course of the world in which I live. I do not accept the fact that my lot is decided, day after day, by people whose projects are hostile to me or simply unknown to me, and for whom we, that is I and everyone else, are only numbers in a general plan or pawns on a chessboard, and that, ultimately, my life and death are in the hands of people whom I know to be, necessarily, blind.
    • p. 92.
  • Wo Ich bin, soll Es auftauchen.
    • Where Ego is, Id must spring forth.
    • p. 104.

About Castoriadis[edit]

  • Castoriadis has given this tradition [the tradition of praxis philosophy] new life by introducing a unique linguistic turn. His work has a central place among the new departures in praxis philosophy that have evolved since the mid-1960s, especially in Eastern Europe (in Prague, Budapest, Zagreb, and Belgrade), and that for a decade enlivened the discussions at the Summer School of Korčula. It is the most original, ambitious, and reflective attempt to think through the liberating mediation of history, society, external and internal nature once again as praxis.

External links[edit]

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