The conversation begins with reflections on social imaginaries as a crossroads concept, capable of integrating insights from multiple sources; this point is developed through references to the works of Marx, Durkheim and Weber, and followed by comments on Charles Taylor’s hermeneutical realism, as well as on the task of rethinking psychoanalysis. Marcel Gauchet’s approach is noted as the most promising perspective on the latter field. Further discussion deals with the concept of imaginary significations as a key to the theory of culture, and then moves on to two foreshadowed but notably underdeveloped themes in Castoriadis’s work: the symbolic and the problems of theorizing action. Both of them are linked to the phenomenological notion of the world. The final section raises the question of power and emphasizes the affinity of social imaginaries with a relational understanding of power.
In this article, the author tries to show how the concept of anaclisis forged by Freud and further elaborated by Castoriadis can help to conceive ‘gender’ as a phenomenon between body and imaginary, between bios and nomos or, in Castoriadis’s words, between a ‘first natural stratum’ and ‘imaginary institution’. By analyzing the concept of imagination as related to the body in Castoriadis’s latest text and in an unpublished seminar on psychoanalysis, the article furthermore opens the gaze to the chiasmatic interrelation between body and psyche on the one hand, and between imaginary representation (mise en scène) as well as institution and cultural incorporation on the other. Revisiting the concept of anaclisis as well as its limits should permit a better understanding of the gender-imaginary and its relation to the body.
In his forthcoming Lectures on Imagination, Paul Ricoeur develops his theory by contending that the imagination may be understood across two axes. The first, horizontal axis moves from reproductive imagination at the left end to productive imagination on the right. A second, vertical axis moves from belief at the bottom to critical distance at the top. This article examines his vertical axis and seek to comprehend and appraise his distinction between imagination as belief and as critical distance. Elaboration of the vertical axis remains significant both as a matter of exegesis internal to the Lectures and, more substantively, as an opening, perhaps especially in our parlous times, to the availability of a distinction between critical distance and being captured by belief. While the article values the potential positive role of critical distance as providing a location for alternative perspectives on and critique of existing imaginative frameworks, it questions Ricoeur’s claims that the vertical axis permits even at the top an escape from belief or that belief is necessarily negative. In developing this response, the article initially returns to subtleties in Ricoeur’s presentation in the Lectures that his main argument on the vertical axis does not pursue, and it then turns to engage in a contrast between Ricoeur’s argument in the Lectures and his argument in the Lectures on Ideology and Utopia. Part of the claim is that perspectives in both hermeneutics and phenomenology to which Ricoeur otherwise adheres challenge his conclusion that critical distance permits an escape from belief. These perspectives also challenge the kind of phenomenological stance Ricoeur develops and so reveal conflicts between hermeneutics and phenomenology and between various strands of phenomenology. The article develops its analysis in particular by distinguishing between Ricoeur’s emphasis on imagination as as if or as seeing as. The article concludes by showing the interrelation of the argument about the persistence of belief to contemporary theory in behavioral economics. The article’s thesis, then, has substantial implications for the construction of Ricoeur’s vertical axis, for the implications of this axis in relation to Ricoeur’s other work, and for its engagement with and expansion of contemporary social theory.
The Overcoming Modernity symposium that took place in wartime Japan (in summer 1942) gained notoriety in the postwar period, as a centrepiece of wartime propaganda justifying and legitimising Japanese military actions across Asia. While the published proceedings of the symposium were not as widely read as its postwar notoriety suggests, the phrase ‘overcoming modernity’ certainly captured the zeitgeist of the time in which ‘modernity’ was questioned, debated and contested. The efforts to examine ‘modernity’ in the first half of the twentieth century in Japan were led by a group of philosophers and intellectuals often referred to as the Kyoto School of philosophy because the school mainly drew its members from the Philosophy Department of the Imperial University of Kyoto, but their efforts were not made in isolation. Questioning of modernity in the form of western civilisation had been gathering pace in the West since the end of the nineteenth century, which the members of the Kyoto School were all well aware of. This naturally leads to a few questions: What did the Kyoto School mean by ‘modernity’ in this intellectual climate? Does their ‘modernity’ justify their claim to have overcome modernity? The paper explores what the wartime Japanese intellectuals including the members of the Kyoto School understood as modernity and what they suggested as a way of overcoming it by examining two sets of symposia that took place between 1941 and 1942: the Overcoming Modernity symposium (1942) and the Chūōkōron symposia (1941–42). This examination has implications for theoretical debates on modernity, in particular, on the strengths of the multiple modernities thesis.
The environment and climate change have achieved global, imaginary and institutional, centrality. Yet, despite efforts by social movements and intellectuals to change the status of ‘nature’ in social life, its unsurpassable exteriority in relation to ‘society’ remains a defining feature of modernity. While the imaginary is to a large extent fluid, these are core elements that hardly change, and by the same token are hard to change, one of the reasons being that they are crystalized in institutions, which contributes to their recursiveness and reiteration. This article explores the reasons for this, reconstructing the modern perspective, the role of subjectivity in it and some alternative views while focusing on the political dimension of modernity. It then goes on to tackle contemporary issues. If we aim to bring about a different world, and this does not exclude recourse to different civilizational alternatives, I argue that it is mostly from within the modern imaginary and institutional framework that we must face up to present challenges. I also suggest that the concepts of collective subjectivity and materiality may contribute to a renewed understanding of these questions within a critical theory perspective.
We are pleased to announce that our new International Journal of Social Imaginaries has online submission only, using Editorial Manager (em), an online submission and peer review tracking system that is currently used worldwide by over 3000 journals. Editorial Manager allows authors to track the progress of their submission online.
Via the em website for the Journal at www.editorialmanager.com/ijsi, authors are guided step-by-step through the submission process. The system automatically converts all source files of the article to a single pdf that is then used in the peer-review process. All
The cover of this journal, The International Journal of Social Imaginaries, is inspired by Cornelius Castoriadis’s reading of the myth of Daedalus’s labyrinth as an alternative to Plato’s Cave. He draws on this metaphor so as to rethink reason, thought, truth, being, creation, and doing. Rather than searching for an absolute truth, we are, when thinking, engaging in human creation in order to be able to encounter the real. When entering the metaphorical labyrinth to explore the real, we simultaneously create new, interconnecting corridors to negotiate. This is our lifeworld—the social and historical world, as it is given
This essay considers the philosophical implications and the political ramifications of the dispute between Lefort and Castoriadis. It argues that the meaning of the conflict is best captured through consideration of Merleau-Ponty’s notion of wild being as it appears in his later thought. It considers Merleau-Ponty’s varying influence on Castoriadis and Lefort’s respective trajectories and explores how their different approaches to ontology plays out to the response to the problematic of the political. Whilst both Castoriadis and Lefort pursue a non-foundationalist ontology, they differ on the issue of the origin of nomos, and their different interpretations of—and break with—Marx leads to significantly different conclusions about the prospect of society and autonomy.