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Castoriadis's OntologyBeing and Creation$
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Suzi Adams

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234585

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234585.001.0001

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Proto-Institutions and Epistemological Encounters

Proto-Institutions and Epistemological Encounters

(p.60) 2 Proto-Institutions and Epistemological Encounters
Castoriadis's Ontology

Suzi Adams

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on Castoriadis's epistemological grappling with the social-historical and argues that he does so via a critique of elementary reason (as a critique of Kant). He elucidates social-historical being as comprised of two strata: the ensemblistic-identitarian and the imaginary/signitive. He gives an account of the two proto-institutions of legein and teukhein. They can be understood as elementary forms of, respectively, “thinking” and “doing”, and act as a bridge between nature and the social-historical. Legein, as a form of “theoretical reason”, corresponds to proto-thinking, whilst teukhein, as a form of “practical reason”, converges with elementary social doing. Mathematics has a natural anchor in legein as the capacity to “distinguish-choose-posit-assemble-count-speak” in a universal manner, whilst teukhein involves identitarian aspects of “assembling-adjusting-fabricating-constructing”. Although there are overlaps between the two, each reveals a dimension that is absent in the other: The signitive relation is characteristic only of legein, whereas the transformative relation is present in teukhein. Castoriadis seeks to elucidate legein and teukhein as the social-historical, that is, institutional underpinning of ensemblistic-identiatarian logic and charts Castoriadis's growing realization that ontological foundations are inseparable from logical foundations.

Keywords:   legein, teukhein, reason, ensemblistic-identitarian logic, proto-institution, signitive relation, transformative relation, social doing

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