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Institutionalization as a Creative Process, The Sociological Importance of Cornelius Castoriadis Political Philosophy

Institutionalization as a Creative Process, The Sociological Importance of Cornelius Castoriadis Political Philosophy

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Review: Institutionalization as a Creative Process: The Sociological Importance of Cornelius Castoriadis's Political Philosophy Author(s): Hans Joas and Raymond Meyer Source: The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 94, No. 5 (Mar., 1989), pp. 1184-1199 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2780470 Accessed: 01/11/2010 10:05
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.
Review: Institutionalization as a Creative Process: The Sociological Importance of Cornelius Castoriadis's Political Philosophy Author(s): Hans Joas and Raymond Meyer Source: The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 94, No. 5 (Mar., 1989), pp. 1184-1199 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2780470 Accessed: 01/11/2010 10:05
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.

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Review: Institutionalization as a Creative Process: The Sociological Importance of CorneliusCastoriadis's Political PhilosophyAuthor(s): Hans Joas and Raymond MeyerSource:
The American Journal of Sociology,
Vol. 94, No. 5 (Mar., 1989), pp. 1184-1199Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 01/11/2010 10:05
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=ucpress.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
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Review Essay: Institutionalizationas a Creative Process:The SociologicalImportance of CorneliusCastoriadis'sPolitical Philosophy
Crossroadsnthe Labyrinth.By CorneliusCastoriadis.Translatedby Kate Soper and Martin H.Ryle. Cambridge:MIT Press, 1984.Pp.xxxi+ 345. $12.50 (paper).TheImaginary nstitution fSociety. By CorneliusCastoriadis.Trans-lated by Kathleen Blamey.Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987.Pp. 418.$35.00.Domainesde l'homme:Lescarrefours u labyrinthe .ByCorneliusCastoriadis.Paris: EditionsduSeuil, 1986. Pp. 455.Fr150.HansJoasUniversitit rlangen-NiirnbergIfit is not to lapse into academicsterility,ociological heorymuston- tinually ebate the mportantublicssuesand approacheso social the-oryhatrise outsidets own boundaries.Otherwise, ociologicalheoryisindanger f occupying tselfwithmerely elf-posed roblemswithouthope of capturing he public'sinterest nd risking creepingoss ofinfluencewithin he family fsocial- and human-scientificisciplines.Theextraordinarilytrongnterest vincedinthewritingsfJiirgenHabermasand AnthonyGiddensnrecentAmericandiscussionsfso-ciological heoryestifieso arecognition y sociologistsf thisneed toexpand their nquiries, ut itisalsoclear thatthisneedcannotbefullysatisfiedy ts own intellectualmeans and resources.ThepublicationftheEnglishranslationfa decade-oldFrenchbookprovides n occasion for allingttention o the workof a socialtheoristwhosetature s athinkers,withoutualification,omparableo thatftheforementionedheorists,utwhoseworkhasheretoforeonelmostunnoticedy sociologists.ertainofCorneliusCastoriadis's deashaveexercisedsurreptitiousnfluencehroughhewritingsf AlainTour-aine, which, however,offerwealth ofempiricaldataat theexpenseoftheoreticalxactness.CorneliusCastoriadissnotsociologist,ndheis, moreover, uite skepticalbout the sociological roject nsofarsitseeks toreplacethe oldpoliticalphilosophywith technicalknowledgemodeledon thepositiveciences ndoriented o immediatepplication.
?1989by The University f Chicago.All rights eserved.0002-9602/89/9405-0007$0150.
1184AJS Volume 94 Number5 (March 1989): 1184-99
 
ReviewEssayCastoriadis'sentirepersonal history redisposeshim for the roleof aboundary rosserbetweenthedisciplines,etweenphilosophyndsci-ence, and also betweentheoreticalystematizationndengagementnsocial movements.BorninGreecen1922, he joined theGreek Communist artys ayoungman and tookpartnthe struggle gainstheoccupyingGermanarmy.Disappointedby the Stalinist haracterf thatparty,e switched,evenbeforeheendof the war, to theTrotskyistourth nternational,whichfor time mbodiedormanyEuropeanand American ntellectu-als thehope of a democraticndrevolutionaryocialism.However,oonafterrrivingnParis, whereheintended ostudy hilosophy,e brokewith hisrganizationoo. Togetherwithnumber fother,ow-famousFrench intellectuals,he founded a politicalandtheoretical ournal,Socialismeou barbarie.Whileprofessionallyctive as aneconomist,epublished many analysesof capitalism,of the Sovietsystem,ndofMarxism, singdifferentseudonyms.Whilehehighntellectualualityof thesearticlessundeniable,t is also true thattheywerepoliticallyineffectualor longtimeand burdenedby the radical Left's ectarianpolemics.Castoriadiswas one ofthe ntellectualnspirationsorheunex-pected ruption fMay 1968nParis.Even beforehisuprising,e hadpublished criticalssessmentfMarxismhatwas,forhim,antamounttoa rupturewith hatheory. uringhisperiod,hechangedprofessionsandbecame a practicingsychoanalyst.utifthiswereall,Iwould notbediscussingimhere. Castoriadiswithdrew romhefashionablentel-lectualmovementsf thetime nd worked oryears n a new startnhisownthinking,o buildwith aborious eflectionhebasisofn alternativetheory n theruinsof adiscreditedMarxism.Castoriadis'sundertakinglearlydiffersn tworespectsrom rucialfeaturesf the Frenchzeitgeist fter1968.It is neither tructuralistorpoststructuralist)oriberal. Castoriadis'sxtensiveworkonatheoryflanguagesintendedrimarily o engagestructuralismtthe verypoint on which hisheoryases its scientificlaims.He seeks nonstructural-ist theory f the signand of the symbolical.Buthistrenchant ritiqueof Marxismdoesnotmakehiman uncriticalhampionofliberalism,asifthe failure f Marxism proved"that iberalismsthe deal or theonly acceptableform ofgovernment Domainesdel'homme DH],p. 106). The criticalxamination f psychoanalysisnd the alternativetheoryfferedyCastoriadis anbecharacterized egatively,irst f all:hepolemicizes gainstbothJacquesLacan'stheory nd theform f ther-apyLacan advocated and practiced. peakingpositively,nthewritingsof thistransitionaleriod,Castoriadis ubscribeso thetenets f apost-empiricist heoryf science: Theillusions bout successivepproxima-tions,bout the accumulation f results, boutthegradual andsystem-aticconquestf a simplerational rderpre-existingithinheworldrebeing dissipated" Crossroadsn theLabyrinthCL], p. xiv).For Cas-toriadis, owever,hisrecognitionoes notgivecarteblanchefor elativ-1185

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